Production times and design constraints are a big challenge to overcome in manufacturing, especially in the aerospace industry which already requires a lot of time for certification. This is a key advantage that 3D printing brings in this industry.

A great example of this situation is seen with GKN Aerospace that cuts its production time from weeks to a few hours using Stratasys Production 3D Printer. The company provides the world’s aircraft and engine manufacturers with aerostructures, engine systems and technologies.

By using traditional techniques, engineers need to manufacture a metal or plastic replacement tool which requires several weeks. However, by using an in-house production 3D printer and the ULTEM™ 1010 Resin material to perform the same exercise, the replacement burden has been removed and the responsiveness to manufacturing requirements improved.

We can now cost-effectively produce tools for our operators within three hours,Tim Hope, Additive Manufacturing Center Manager, at GKN Aerospace explains. “This saves critical production time, and by printing in engineering-grade thermoplastics, we can produce 3D printed tools with repeatable, predictable quality every time. All while matching the quality of a traditionally-produced tool, and reducing the costs and concessions compared to equivalent metallic tooling.

Since integrating the F900, we have dramatically reduced production-line downtime for certain teams and are enjoying a new-found freedom to design complex tools,” he says.

With the success of such operation, GKN Aerospace anticipates a greater move towards the use of FDM in the production of end-use composite parts. Lastly, the technology also demonstrates that, the manufacturing of parts in the aerospace industry is not limited to metal 3D printing.

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