Airbus has just qualified Materialise for the production of flight-ready parts using laser sintering technology. This is not the first collaboration between the aerospace company and the Belgian 3D printing service provider. As a matter of fact, both companies worked together several years ago when Airbus started using FDM 3D printing on its A350 system.
However, this qualification is a milestone for AM in the aerospace sector as Airbus will start using another AM technology, and will deploy laser sintered parts on commercial aircrafts and other products.
Bart Van der Schueren, Materialise CTO, commented: “This achievement consolidates our long-term partnership with Airbus, and it also opens up additional 3D printing applications to Airbus and its suppliers. Laser sintering is one of the most widely used 3D printing technologies and enables complex design features such as interlocking mechanisms. It’s an honor for Materialise to be Airbus’s first manufacturer for the technology.”
Furthermore, what is interesting here is that the material used in the qualification process is a flame-retardant polyamide (PA 2241 FR) produced by EOS. Recognized for its refresh rate, PA 2241 FR would enable cost-effective production while meeting the strict quality standards required of aerospace parts. Typical aerospace applications include aircraft interior parts such as air ducts and brackets. The material is suitable for parts which must fulfil fire, smoke and toxicity (FST) requirements, without use of a primer and top coating.
Markus Glasser, Senior Vice President EMEA, EOS, says: “We are very proud that after an extensive testing program, Airbus qualified the EOS PA 2241 FR material and processes for usage globally by the company. It underlines the high maturity and constant quality of EOS’ powder and systems and continues to emphasize the relevance of industrial 3D printing in both polymers and metals.”
Materialise currently prints around 100 different part numbers for the Airbus A350, totaling an estimated 26,000 parts per year across the A350 ecosystem. Additionally, the company is also set to supply parts for other Airbus aircraft platforms including the A320, A330, and A340. For this, EOS industrial 3D printing technology plays and will play a key role.
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