Airbus will use laser additive-manufactured components

Premium Aerotec is starting series production of 3D-printed metal parts for the Airbus Group.

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For the aviation industry, additive manufacturing methods present both an opportunity and a challenge. This is because additive manufacturing technology produces entirely new components and also creates new supply chains.

Premium Aerotec (Augsburg, Germany) is starting series production of 3D-printed metal parts for the Airbus Group at its Varel site (Friesland, Germany). To do this, the Airbus subsidiary constructed a new production hall for the additive manufacturing of titanium parts in Varel. At the same time, the company concluded a cooperation agreement with Concept Laser (Lichtenfels, Germany) for the machinery and plant technology.

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LaserCUSING machines from Concept Laser in the new production hall in Varel. (Courtesy: Premium Aerotec GmbH)

With its investment, Premium Aerotec is following the plans of Airbus. According to Peter Sander, Airbus Head of Emerging Technologies & Concepts, Airbus is planning to print one ton of metal powder a month in 2018. Accordingly, additive manufacturing production and processes should be consistently promoted and expanded through 2018.

Premium Aerotec’s new production hall for 3D metal printing commenced operation on January 20, 2016. This heralded the start of industrial series production of a double-walled pipe elbow in the fuel system of the A400M transport aircraft. These complex parts were previously produced from individually cast parts, which were then welded together to form one assembly. In the hall, two M2 cusing Multilaser machines and one X line 1000R machine from Concept Laser produce 3D parts in the LaserCUSING process. “By the middle of 2016, another X line 2000R will be added. It features what is currently the world’s largest build envelope (800 x 400 x 500mm3) in the field of powder-bed-based laser melting and is also equipped with 2 x 1000W lasers,” says Gerd Weber, site manager in Varel.

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