Minnesota-based 3D printing company, Stratasys has announced a new aerospace 3D printing certification solution. Referred to as the Fortus 900mc Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution, the system is centered around Stratasys’ Fortus 900mc 3D printer.

The aerospace solution is intended to simplify and speed up the process to get 3D printed interior parts certified by both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

In other news, Stratasys has also announced a technical partnership with U.S. aerospace company Boom Supersonic. The agreement is intended to support Boom Supersonic’s development of a commercial supersonic airliner.

New edition of the Fortus 900mc specially for aerospace solutions. Image via Stratasys.

New edition of the Fortus 900mc specially for aerospace solutions. Image via Stratasys.

Specialized hardware and software

The aerospace certification solution consists of a new ULTEM™ 9085 resin and a, “new edition of the Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer with specialized hardware and software designed to deliver highly repeatable mechanical properties.” The announcement comes as the 3D printing industry prepares for the opening of this year’s Paris Air Show.

The event will feature a number of 3D printing demonstrations, including Prodways latest 3D printing metal innovation.

Under the guidance of the FAA, the Stratasys aerospace solution is currently undergoing testing at the National Center for Advanced Materials Performance (NCAMP) – part of the University of Wichita’s National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR).

The certification is expected to be completed by September 2017, at which time the company intends to commercially launch the solution. Paul Jonas, Director Technology Development, Special Programs, Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) explains the intentions behind the program,

The first part that you make has to be equivalent to the hundredth part, to the thousandth part, to the part you make ten years from now in order to be good enough to be certified for the FAA. And that’s what’s so powerful about the NCAMP process.

Camera mount bracket produced on the Fortus 900mc Production 3D printer. Image via Stratasys.

Camera mount bracket produced on the Fortus 900mc Production 3D printer. Image via Stratasys.

Repeatability 

According to Scott Sevcik, Head of Aerospace, Defense and Automotive Solutions at Stratasys, the current process for getting 3D printed parts certified for the aerospace industry is inhibiting the technology’s growth. As Sevcik states,

Until now, the process of achieving FAA certification for 3D printing has been limiting the adoption of additive manufacturing in aviation. There have been limited specialized solutions and statistical datasets available to support this complex process. With the new Stratasys Fortus 900mc Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution, we are removing major obstacles and making it much easier to 3D print airworthy parts, improving repeatability and performance.

Stratasys explains the significance of 3D printing interior parts is that manufacturers can provide customizable parts and components and also improve supply chain efficiency. It is for this reason, Daimler Buses is also currently exploring the creation of bespoke 3D printed parts for the interiors of its buses. Creating spare parts on-demand is often hailed as the future of 3D printing in industries such as automotive, aerospace and locomotive. German rail company Deutsche Bahn is attempting to tap in to this area by incorporating both plastic and metal 3D printed parts into its operations.

Boom Supersonic partnership

Boom's XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft. Image via Business Wire.

Boom’s XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft. Image via Business Wire.

Stratasys will deploy its 3D printing expertise in facilitating production of thermoplastic parts for Boom Supersonic’s XB-1 aircraft. Reaching speeds of up to 1,451 miles an hour, the aircraft will be 2.6 times faster than anything else currently on the market. The supersonic airliner is expected to fly from New York to London in just three hours rather than seven.

Boom’s XB-1 demonstrator aircraft is expected to launch on its test flight next year and will now be supported by Stratasys’ Fortus 450mc and F370 3D printers. Blake Scholl, Founder and CEO at Boom explains that while supersonic flight has existed for over half a century, “the technology hasn’t existed to make it affordable for routine commercial travel.” Scholl says,

Today’s significant advances in aerodynamics, engine design, additive manufacturing, and carbon fiber composite materials are transforming the industry at all levels. Additive manufacturing helps accelerate development of a new generation of aircraft. With a proven track-record of success across aviation and aerospace, Stratasys now becomes a key catalyst in our design and production processes – helping to transform the future of aviation through the power of 3D printing.

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Featured image shows brackets 3D printed on the Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer. Image via Stratasys.

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