EOS, Baltic3D and Etihad Engineering team up for 3D serial printed aircraft interior parts


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3D printer manufacturer EOS and industrial 3D printing service provider Baltic3D have partnered with a commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service provider Etihad Engineering to explore serial 3D printing of aircraft interior parts.

The R&D project, titled “Applicability of FDM and SLS industrial 3D printing technology in the mass production of aircraft interior parts”, will see Baltic3D printing thousands of material samples using the technology of laser sintering of EOS which will be tested at Etihad’s Flammability Engineering Laboratory in Abu Dhabi. Once certified to aviation standards, several prototypes will be printed for the design of aircraft interior parts.

“From part design to manufacturing and certification of final parts, the aviation supply chain is heavily impacted by Covid-19,” said Janis Jātnieks, co-founder of Baltic3D. “With this R&D project, we aim to dramatically reduce the time and money for design organizations and OEMs to invest to add additive manufacturing as an additional manufacturing route to existing production or even to go fully into production. of complex parts using AM.

“Our plan is to establish a comprehensive set of test and manufacturing data that would help aerospace engineers develop AM part designs with a high level of confidence.”

PA 2241 FR material samples, produced at Baltic3D, ready to ship for flammability testing. Photo via Baltic3D.

3D printing for aviation

Additive manufacturing has been exploited in the aerospace industry for some time, with end-use 3D printed parts starting to become more common on commercial aircraft.

For example, the aerospace manufacturer Boeing made the first flight of its 777X jet in January 2020, equipped with GE9X engines from GE Aviation containing 300 3D printed parts. Since then, Boeing has qualified as OEM Stratasys Antero 800NA thermoplastic filament to produce end-use components on board its aircraft.

Earlier this year, another aerospace company Airbus qualified additive manufacturing provider Materialize to produce ready-to-fly components for its aircraft. Materialize will begin producing parts printed with EOS flame retardant polyamide powder, PA 2241 FR, marking Airbus’ first entry into SLS 3D printing.

Elsewhere, a composite materials company Hexcel launched its own electrically conductive polymer based carbon fiber composite specifically for aircraft 3D printing and air distribution system manufacturer Senior Aeronautics BWT installed two Stratasys Fortus 450mc 3D printers to 3D print aircraft interior parts for its in-house customers.

More recently, manufacturer of industrial 3D printers Essentium teamed up with Wichita State University National aeronautical research institute (NIAR) to accelerate the advancement of 3D printing within the US aerospace industry.

GE Aviation has also used 3D printing to produce aircraft parts, including in Boeing's 777x jet engine (pictured).  Photo via Boeing.
GE Aviation has used 3D printing to produce aircraft parts, including in Boeing’s 777x jet engine (pictured). Photo via Boeing.

Additive serial manufacturing of aeronautical parts

Having already demonstrated the qualification of its technology and materials for aerospace applications, EOS’s SLS 3D printing technology was selected by Baltic3D for the R&D project with Etihad Engineering. Over the course of the project, Baltic3D will print over 2,000 material coupons using an EOS P 396 machine, which will then undergo testing at Etihad’s Flammability Engineering Lab.

During the flammability testing phase, which will involve, among other things, FST and heat release testing, Etihad will provide analysis and engineering reports to provide feedback on the 3D printed designs and prototypes produced by Baltic3D. . The material samples will be tested in accordance with aviation standards and once these requirements are met, several aircraft interior part design prototypes will be created.

“EOS constantly strives to be the most reliable partner with proven and reliable technology, consistently complying with the demands of the aerospace industry,” said Markus Glasser, senior vice president EMEA at EOS. “In recent years, we have succeeded in fully qualifying our technology, that is, materials, processes and systems qualified for the aerospace world.

“Aerospace demands reliable data, which is the primary focus of this project, and therefore we strongly believe that this project will dramatically accelerate the adoption of AM in aerospace. “

According to Glasser, EOS and Baltic3D share a vision of producing high quality offerings for their aerospace customers, enabling technological innovation and reducing costs for complex parts. Baltic3D’s goal is to increase access to 3D printing know-how and test results in order to accelerate the adoption of 3D printing for aviation companies.

All in all, the overall objective of the R&D project is to bring the production of aircraft interior parts closer to true additive mass production. And, as an industry leader in the implementation of 3D printing technologies in aerospace applications, Etihad also embraces this vision.

“As the first MRO airline in the Middle East to receive EASA approval to design, produce and certify 3D printed cabin parts, we are delighted to support Baltic3D and EOS,” said Ahmad Rajei, Acting Vice President of Design, Engineering and Innovation at Etihad. Engineering. “The launch of this R&D initiative is in line with Etihad Engineering’s position as a leading global player in aeronautical engineering as well as a pioneer in innovation and technology.

Etihad Engineering Facility.  Photo via Etihad Engineering.
Etihad Engineering Facility. Photo via Etihad Engineering.

Since the exhibition of the region’s first 3D printed aircraft interior part in 2017, Etihad has continued to scale up its 3D printing efforts. In recent years, the company has partnered with large-scale 3D printer maker BigRep and worked with Siemens and aerostructure manufacturer Strata Manufacturing.

Etihad Engineering and EOS have also previously worked together on aerospace projects, with the two companies reaching an agreement in 2018 for EOS to produce 3D printed cabin interiors for Etihad aircraft using polymeric additive manufacturing technology.

The following year, Etihad opened its additive manufacturing plant in Abu Dhabi in partnership with EOS and BigRep. It would be the region’s first 3D printing lab with EASA design and production approval, the center aimed to produce aircraft parts using PBF technology.

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Featured Image Shows PA 2241 FR material samples, produced at Baltic3D, ready to ship for flammability testing. Photo via Baltic3D.

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