XB-1 aircraft will fly with 21 titanium 3D-printed parts for critical engine

The XB-1 aircraft marks a turning point in commercial viability for supersonic travel and demonstrates the power of additive manufacturing to enable innovation while accelerating product development.

The exterior of Boom Supersonic's XB-1 aircraft is impressive, but what's inside is of great significance: 3D-printed titanium flight-hardware components.
The exterior of Boom Supersonic's XB-1 aircraft is impressive, but what's inside is of great significance: 3D-printed titanium flight-hardware components.

The XB-1 aircraft from Boom Supersonic (Denver, CO) includes 21 flight hardware components that were manufactured by the Sapphire 3D metal printer from VELO3D (Campbell, CA). The XB-1 marks a turning point in commercial viability for supersonic travel and demonstrates the power of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, to enable innovation while accelerating product development.

“Aviation hardware is especially difficult to manufacture with 3D metal printing, due to challenging aerodynamic designs that must be balanced with superior durability and high temperature requirements,” said Benny Buller, CEO and Founder of VELO3D. “VELO3D’s technology allows the production of lightweight, complex designs for mission-critical applications in the toughest operating conditions.”

In 2019, Boom Supersonic and VELO3D formed a partnership to manufacture complex flight hardware to build XB-1, and ran a series of qualification trials on VELO3D’s Sapphire system. The printed titanium parts are used for engine hardware, the environmental control system, and structural components. Characteristics of the geometric designs include tall, thin walls with high aspect ratios, which are inherently difficult to manufacture with either traditional processes such as welding and casting, or even most existing 3D printing technologies. VELO3D’s SupportFree printing process enables unprecedented design freedom and quality control, eliminating manufacturing constraints to innovation in aircraft design. 

XB-1 is the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet. It will be used to demonstrate critical technologies for Overture, Boom’s future commercial airliner, such as advanced carbon-fiber composite construction, computer-optimized high-efficiency aerodynamics, and an efficient supersonic propulsion system. XB-1 is the end-product of years of development effort, including multiple wind tunnel trials, dozens of structural tests, hundreds of simulation iterations, and tens of thousands of work hours.

For more information, please visit velo3d.com and boomsupersonic.com

Source: VELO3D press release – October 7, 2020

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