Aerospace requirements include small volume, light weight and high strength components. Whether for prototyping, tooling and jig manufacture or end-use part manufacturing, 3D printing technology provides a range of solutions, especially when combined with the range of different materials, particularly FDM’s ULTEM 9085 which is high strength and low weight.
Building using Sparse Wall technique, which uses an internal lattice structure further reduces weight while retaining structural integrity and strength. Tools such as jigs, fixtures, templates and gauges are essential to design, prototyping and manufacturing stages. Small volume 3D printed tools can be substituted for CNC tool machining and built for complex geometries, with a wide range of properties available from heat and chemical resistance to ESD protection and with very good tolerance. Traditional CNC setup and development times can be utilised later in the development cycle for higher volume parts or even to machine different tolerances.
3D printing surrogate part manufacturing allows shorter lead times when designing complex sub-assemblies and provides parts for form and fit checking when evaluating assembly and interface. FDM surrogate printing cuts tooling and lead times leading to immediate savings while allowing early stage assessment of project development. Shorter development cycles due to more part design iterations also results in better end product design. Some aerospace case studies show lead times cut from six weeks to less than three days, with savings of up to 92%.
For further processing, machining and tooling options, SCHIVO is an AS9100 for Aerospace certified manufacturing site.