Additive manufacturing (AM) has been used as a design tool for two decades in the aerospace industry. In more recent years it has become firmly entrenched in the downstream product lifecycle including functional testing, tooling, jigs and fixtures, production and maintenance. For example, by using AM to make production parts, aerospace companies gain the flexibility to build each unit with different specs to meet the needs of the individual customer without incurring a cost penalty.
The Stratasys white paper entitled “Additive Manufacturing Trends in Aerospace: Leading the Way” provides an overview on how nine leading aerospace companies are using AM in a wide spectrum of applications. The third of four excerpts from this paper explains how Kelly Manufacturing Company (KMC) — the world’s largest manufacturer of general aviation instruments — uses AM to build production parts.
Previously, parts were made from urethane molded in soft (rubber) tooling. This was the process of choice for low-volume production because it is much cheaper and faster than a composite layup. But AM has replaced rubber molding since it further reduces cost and time. The toroid housing, cast in a rubber mold, would have taken three to four weeks for a 500-piece order. Now, KMC produces 500 toroid housings in one overnight run of its FDM system. Justin Kelley, KMC president, said, “From order to delivery, it takes only three days to have certified production parts.”
View or download the complete “Additive Manufacturing Trends in Aerospace: Leading the Way” white paper.
View the first excerpt previously posted here.
View the second excerpt previously posted here.