There have been plenty of announcements this week at the world's oldest air show in Paris, and this included an expansion of the use of 3d printed parts inside some of the most advanced commercial jetliners flying the skies.
3d printing offers airlines and their contractors a new way to manufacture parts that decrease cost and reduce weight, potentially leading to longer aircraft range.
On Tuesday, Norwegian based Norsk Titanium AS, which specializes in the 3d printing of titanium parts, announced that they'll be producing thousands of pieces for one of Boeing's largest sub-contractors - Spirit Aerosystems Holdings.
"Three-dimensional printing is a darling of the aerospace industry because it is relatively inexpensive compared with more-prevalent ways of making components," Andy Pasztor wrote in the Wall Street Journal. "A series of announcements at the Paris Air Show expected in coming days illustrates the immense promise of airliner parts manufactured by 3-D printers—as well as the formidable regulatory challenges confronting their widespread acceptance."
The Federal Aviation Administration in the United States has been taking a cautious but responsible approach to approving 3d printed parts inside commercial jetliners. Currently Norsk and General Electric are the only two companies allowed to produced parts through additive manufacturing (3d printing), and both companies are looking to expand the number of those parts approved for us in planes like Boeing's Dreamliner and others.
While many 3d printed parts for high end industries such as aerospace, automotive and health care are made using a laser to harden metallic powders, Norsk uses a titanium wire, which increases production speed and part size.
Norsk claims the wire based technique is "100 times faster than those using powder, meaning some parts could be ready in a matter of hours, instead of days or weeks." according to the Journal.