Aerospace 3D Printing Solutions
Best Aerospace 3D printing solutions are being progressively developed to cater to the changing requirements of aircraft manufacturers across the globe. Earlier, aircraft components were manufactured at high costs and took a longer time to develop. In recent years, the aircraft manufacturers have begun moving towards 3D printed components, resulting in a significant decline in maintenance and production costs of components along with a less harmful impact on the environment. With the increasing demand for lightweight aircrafts, the aviation industry has been witnessing the need for the use of new technologies, such as 3D printing or additive manufacturing to cater to the diverse and changing requirements of the aerospace industry.
Best Aerospace 3D Printing Solutions 2021
- 3D Systems Corporation
- Hoganas AB
- Arcam AB
- EOS GMBH
- Norsk Titanium
- MTU Aero Engines
- Materialise NV
- ENVISIONTEC GMBH
3D printing technology is widely adopted in several industries such as aerospace, owing to its various benefits, which include reduced manufacturing cost of 3D printed components and their high durability. With the use of 3D printing in the aerospace industry, component manufacturers are capable of developing parts and components that can be consolidated without sub-assemblies. Moreover, the parts manufactured using 3D printing technology are lighter as compared to the ones manufactured by using traditional methods, thus reducing the overall weight of aircrafts and satellites. This, in turn, results in reduced operational costs for aircrafts and satellites. Best Aerospace 3D printing solutions technology has huge scope for growth in the aviation sector, owing to its high adoption rate across the globe, which is expected to fuel the growth of the aerospace 3D printing market during the forecast period.
The demand for Best aerospace 3D printing solutions is expected to be driven by the low volume production of aircraft components in the aerospace industry, rising demand for lightweight components, the need to reduce production time of components, and the requirement for cost efficient and sustainable products. The requirement for rapid prototyping is also expected to fuel the growth of the aerospace 3D printing market during the forecast period.
The Best aerospace 3D printing market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 27.42% from 2017 to 2022 to reach USD 3.06 billion by 2022.
Over the coming years, the aerospace 3D printing market is expected to witness various developments, in terms of printers, materials, and technologies used for 3D printing. New processes with low production time are being developed for the aerospace industry to produce aerospace components in less time. Printers with advanced 3D printing technology are being developed in order to enhance the adoption rate of this technology in the aerospace industry.
The key manufacturers in the Best aerospace 3D printing solutions market include Stratasys Ltd. (U.S.), 3D Systems Corporation (U.S.), The ExOne Company (U.S.), Arcam AB (Sweden), EOS GmbH (Germany), Norsk Titanium AS (Norway), Ultimaker B.V. (Netherlands), and EnvisionTec GmbH (Germany), among others.
The stakeholders, such as component manufacturers, aircraft manufacturers, manufacturers of 3D printers, and material suppliers in the aerospace 3D printing market are focusing on developing new and innovative technologies to meet the increasing demand for 3D printing in the aerospace industry. The companies offering aerospace 3D printing are entering into partnerships for further development of this technology and exploration of new materials that can be used for the 3D printing of aerospace parts and components with enhanced capabilities.
3D printing is one of the most revolutionary technologies that have the potential to change and replace the traditional methods of manufacturing products and components in various industries. This technology is being pursued by several industries, such as the aerospace industry, to develop 3D printed components. 3D printing is being increasingly adopted in the aerospace industry due to its various advantages, which include the development of improved products and components in lesser time, ease of designing complex aircraft and satellite components, and cost efficiency as compared to conventional manufacturing methods.
Numerous factors, such as growing demand for lightweight and fuel efficient aircrafts and satellites, miniaturization of aircraft components, improved strength and durability of the components and parts used in aircrafts and satellites, flexible designing of components, and cost efficiency are driving the growth of the Best aerospace 3D printing solutions market. Several aerospace companies are already employing this technology for prototyping their aerospace products.
The competitive leadership mapping showcased provides information for the best Aerospace 3D Printing Solutions. The vendors are evaluated on two different parameters: Product Offerings and Business Strategy.
This category of best Aerospace 3D Printing Solutions includes 3D Systems, HOGANAS AB, and Stratasys.
This category of Aerospace 3D Printing Solutions includes Norsk Titanium, Arcam AB, and ExOne.
This category of Best Aerospace 3D Printing Solutions includes EOS, and MTU Aero Systems.
This category of Aerospace 3D Printing Solutions includes Materialise, Ultimaker, Envisiontec, and Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings.
Short supply chain of aerospace components
Since the 1980s, 3D printing technology has been adopted by different industries only for creating prototype products and not for commercializing them. In traditional manufacturing, the parts and components of different products are manufactured separately, and the production of end products is dependent on the raw materials, components to be assembled, and assembly lines. This increases the supply chain time of the product that has to be delivered to the end-users. In 3D printing, the products are made as a single component from materials, such as ceramics, super alloys, titanium, and aluminum. The use of this technology eliminates the need to maintain inventory as the products can be produced on-demand.
The use of 3D printing by various industries has resulted in the shortening of supply chain of aerospace components, as it leads to the elimination of those points in a supply chain, wherein manufacturers can directly procure input materials, manufacture aerospace products, and deliver them to different end-users, or they can manufacture components of aircrafts and satellites at different locations. In this way, the technology reduces and simplifies the supply chain network and simultaneously reduces costs related to logistics and inventory. Moreover, it creates a virtual inventory, wherein the designs of the products and components for aircrafts, satellites, and rockets can be stored and maintained in a digital file, and the desired product can be manufactured and shipped directly to the consumers. These benefits offered by 3D printing technology are expected to drive the growth of the Best aerospace 3D printing solutions market, thereby having a positive impact on the aerospace industry as a whole.
Demand for light weight parts and components from aerospace industry
Aircraft, rockets, satellites, and their relative components are considerably heavy, which mainly increases the cost of their operations. A heavy aircraft not only consumes more fuel, but also incurs additional costs in terms of environmental pollution through high carbon dioxide emissions. It has been observed that fuel costs comprise around 35% of the total costs of airline operators. 3D printing can be used to manufacture engine parts, fuselage parts, and other relative parts used in an aircraft. For instance, Airbus Group uses DMLS 3D printing technology to create improved designs of nacelle hinge brackets fitted in the Airbus A320. This has reduced the weight of the aircraft’s parts by 30% to 50%, while keeping their strength and performance intact. The use of this technology has reduced the weight of the aircrafts by 10 kilograms.
Satellites that have less physical weight are also given higher preference in space missions as their weight directly affects the costs involved in the manufacturing of components used in satellites. For instance, if the weight of a satellite component is 1 kilogram, this might cost the satellite manufacturer around USD 21,000 to put that component into orbit. In 2016, Thales Alenia Space partnered with PolyShape, a 3D printing service company, to develop 3D printed satellite parts for South Korean communication satellites, namely Koreasat-5A and Koreasat-7. The use of 3D printing for manufacturing the parts of these satellites reduced their weight by 22% and their cost by 30%.
Increased demand from aerospace industry for technologies capable of manufacturing complex aerospace parts with ease
Most aerospace products are complex and as such, difficult to manufacture. Traditionally, components used in an aircraft were manufactured separately and assembled at the final stage to create the final end product. Moreover, the complex design of some products makes it difficult to manufacture them by using traditional methods. With the advent of 3D printing technology, components with complex designs can be manufactured easily as these complex designs are stored in a digital file to manufacture the products without compromising on their performance, strength, and durability.
For instance, GE Aviation used 3D printing technology to manufacture fan blade edges with a complex design to improve the airflow of aircraft engines. Using traditional methods to manufacture these blade edges would have required a huge amount of money as well as time. Thus, the use of 3D printing is witnessing increased demand in the aerospace industry as the technology is capable of manufacturing complex components with ease.
Requirement for low volume production from aerospace industry
3D printing technology is suitable for industries with low levels of production volume. The technology is also employed in industries that use machine tooling to manufacture different types of products. The employment of 3D printing technology in the aerospace industry eliminates the use of machine tooling for manufacturing aerospace parts, thereby reducing their production costs as well as lead time. 3D printing technology is used in the aerospace industry as it has low production volume. Moreover, the technology also increases the adoption of the print-on-demand concept, wherein the designs of aerospace products are stored in digital files so that they can be printed whenever required.
Limited types of raw materials for 3D printing
The types of raw materials used for 3D printing are very less, and manufacturers of aerospace parts are forced to select from a limited range of available materials. The metal powder and polymers used for creating aerospace products are very expensive. In 2013, thermoplastics used for 3D printing cost around USD 200 per kilogram, whereas the same material when used for injection molding, which is a traditional method for manufacturing aerospace components, cost only around USD 2 per kilogram. Moreover, the stainless steel used in conventional manufacturing is hundred times cheaper than the one used for 3D printing.
The 3D printing process requires improved quality raw materials for the production of aerospace parts and components. Although 3D printing machines are substantially developed to process materials such as metals by sintering, the processing of polymers still requires thorough R&D.
Stringent industry certifications
Despite 3D printing technology offering various benefits to the aerospace industry, the technology is still subjected to stringent regulations and certifications. Regulatory bodies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) need to ensure that the parts and components designed and manufactured by using this technology conform to safety regulations set by the FAA. Moreover, the FAA also ensures that these 3D printed products do not pose any danger to the aircraft, passengers, and crew members.
For instance, Honeywell International, Inc., an aerospace systems manufacturing company, had developed 3D printed components for installation on aircrafts, although the products had to undergo rigorous testing and demonstrations in order to ensure that they do not endanger the aircraft. This factor could inhibit the growth of the Best aerospace 3D printing solutions market, as all 3D product manufacturers are required to obtain various certifications and approvals, such as Type Certificate (TC), Production Certificate (PC), Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA), and Technical Standard Order Authorization (TSOA) from the concerned regulatory authorities.
Development of advanced 3D printing technologies requiring less production time
The traditional processes employed for manufacturing of aerospace components take more time as compared to 3D printing. The development of new 3D printing technologies allows quicker production of parts and components, which may otherwise take months or years to be manufactured, thereby reducing their production time. CLIP is one of the recent 3D printing technologies that is used for manufacturing parts and objects through continuous production and eliminates layer by layer processes, unlike other 3D printing technologies, such as SLA and SLS that produce parts and components layer by layer. Another technology is DMLS, which uses powdered metals instead of powdered thermoplastics for creating metal components. These technologies can develop products at a rate hundred times faster than other 3D printing technologies.
3D Printing as a service
3D printing is viewed as a technology that can replace the traditional manufacturing methods, although it can also be utilized as a form of service. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is currently exploring avenues for utilizing 3D printing as a service for rapid pre-prototyping. For the use of 3D printing as a service, aerospace engineers and manufacturers of aerospace components across the globe are obtaining reviews from clients for various design concepts to acquire approvals for the final prototypes. Low-cost open-source computer-aided designing (CAD) tools and 3D printers can be utilized during the initial stages of prototyping and designing. With the help of open-source computer-aided designing, numerous design concepts and ideas are being gathered, thereby reducing manufacturing time as well as the cost of prototypes.
High volume production of aerospace components is slower as compared to traditional manufacturing
In traditional manufacturing of aerospace components, an increase in production volume results in reduced manufacturing costs, while the speed at which the production is being carried out remains intact. However, in 3D printing technology, the manufacturing costs increase along with an increase in the scale of production, thus making the technology more suitable for low production volume. The costs involved in running and procuring 3D printing machines as well as the cost of raw materials used in 3D printing are higher as compared to that in the case of conventional manufacturing. This factor poses a challenge to the growth of the Best aerospace 3D printing solutions market, although it can be overcome by reducing the costs of raw materials used for 3D printing.
AEROSPACE 3D PRINTING MARKET, BY VERTICAL
On the basis of vertical, Best Aerospace 3D printing solutions market has been segmented into printers and materials. The increasing adoption of 3D printing technology in the aerospace industry for manufacturing different types of components and equipment is expected to drive the growth of the aerospace 3D printing market during the forecast period.
3D printing technology uses three-dimensional printers to print objects through the layer by layer addition of materials. A 3D printer is a machine that creates a physical object from a three-dimensional model by laying down thin layers of materials. The range of printers varies according to the product application and on material being used.
PRINTERS, BY TECHNOLOGY
On the basis of technology, the printers segment of the Best aerospace 3D printing solutions market has been further segmented into SLA, CLIP, FDM, DMLS, SLS, and others. The others sub-segment includes laminated object manufacturing, direct light projection, laser metal deposition, electron beam melting, inkjet printing, and polyjet printing.
SLA is a liquid- or resin-based 3D printing technology, wherein liquid resins are solidified layer by layer using lasers or other sources of light, such as UV rays. In this technology, after the layers of resins are placed, the perforated platform is shifted slightly, and the process continues until a complete part is printed. This technology was developed by Charles Hull, the founder of 3D Systems Corporation (U.S.) in 1986 and is mostly used for creating prototypes of aerospace parts as it reduces production time and is more cost efficient as compared to other means of prototyping.
Continuous liquid interface production (CLIP)
The CLIP 3D printing technology is similar to SLA, wherein UV light is used to initiate the process of photopolymerization to develop a continual liquid interface. The development of this interface eliminates the need for layer by layer printing of objects, enabling continuous printing. This 3D printing technology allows for the development of complex aerospace parts that can be printed in minutes instead of hours.
Fusion deposition modelling (FDM)
The FDM 3D printing technology is mostly used to carry out rapid prototyping and modeling of aerospace parts. 3D printers that use FDM technology melt thermoplastic material into a semi-liquid form, which is then projected to the CAD software to be stored as a digital file. This technology allows layer by layer printing of objects. In this printing technology, various types of modeling materials are used, which include thermoplastics, such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate (PC) filaments, and nylon, while water soluble wax or polyphenylsulfone (PPSF) are used as support materials.
Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS)
In the DMLS 3D printing technology, metal powders are sintered using a laser, and the cross section of objects is traced layer by layer. DMLS 3D printing technology offers several advantages, including printing of sophisticated metal parts, such as undercuts and draft angles, cavities, and rotors that are difficult to be developed using other technologies. For instance, DMLS 3D printing technology was used by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, an aerospace manufacturing company, to 3D print the main oxidizer valve body of one of the nine Merlin 1D engines. GE Aviation also uses this technology to 3D print fuel nozzles that are installed in its GE9x and LEAP engines.
Selective laser sintering (SLS)
The SLS 3D printing technology uses a carbon dioxide laser to heat thermoplastic powder in order to form solid objects. The parts printed by using SLS 3D printing technology offer resistance to heat and chemicals, and are durable and reliable in nature. They are also light in weight. This technology is used to print fuel injectors and other aerospace parts and components.
The others 3D printing technology segment includes laminated object manufacturing (LOM), direct light projection (DLP), laser metal deposition (LMD), electron beam melting (EBM), inkjet printing, and polyjet printing.
3D printing materials can be divided into four main categories, namely metals, plastics, ceramics, and others. Different materials offer different combinations of physical properties. The materials used for 3D printing are selected on the basis of the application for which the printed object is to be used or on the basis of the component to be printed. The materials are available in a variety of forms, such as granules, filaments, powders, or pellets. With the increasing adoption of 3D printing in the aerospace industry, the manufacturers of 3D printing materials are making increasing investments to develop new materials that comply with the standards of the aerospace industry.
MATERIALS, BY TYPE
There are different types of materials used for 3D printing of aerospace components. On the basis of type, the materials used for 3D printing of aerospace components have been classified into titanium, steel, aluminum, nickel, plastics, ceramics, and others. Titanium, steel, and aluminum are generally used for for 3D printing of engine components, such as turbine blades, fuel nozzles, and engine nacelles, among others. Plastics are used for 3D printing of interior components of aircrafts, such as seat panels, air ducts, and wall panels, among others.
MATERIALS, BY APPLICATION
On the basis of application, the materials segment of the Best aerospace 3D printing solutions market has been further segmented into engine components, structural components, and space components. The engine components sub-segment includes turbine blades and fuel nozzles, and the structural components sub-segment includes air ducts, wall panels, and crew seat panels, while the space components sub-segment comprises antenna support structures and fuel tanks.
3D printing is gaining popularity in the aerospace industry, owing to its ability to print lightweight parts for aircraft, UAVs, and spacecraft. Manufacturers of aircrafts and their components use this technology to print complex parts. The technology is also proving beneficial for printing parts that are required in low volume.
The engine components sub-segment is expected to lead the materials segment of the aerospace 3D printing market during the forecast period.
3D printed engine components include fuel nozzles, turbines, and airfoil blades. These components are light in weight and easy to design. For instance, 3D printed fuel nozzles are used by GE Aviation in its CFM LEAP engines and are 25% lighter than their predecessors. Moreover, there is also a reduction in the number of parts used to manufacture these fuel nozzles from 18 to 1. GE Aviation is the largest user of 3D printing technology in metals. GKN Aerospace is carrying out research activities to develop engine nacelles using 3D printing technology.
Engine manufacturers are trying to adopt 3D printing technologies to manufacture most of the engine parts. 3D printing technology helps to lower the weight of the engines by eliminating bolts, welds, and other parts required to attach the components together.
The structural parts of an aircraft, which include air ducts, wall panels, and crew seat panels, among others are manufactured using 3D printing technology. This not only reduces the cost of the components, but also facilitates the supply chain of aircraft components, thus ensuring that they are available easily and on time for aircraft manufacturers. Moreover, the use of 3D printing technology for manufacturing components also reduces the risks associated with the supply chain of aircraft components.
Different materials are being used for manufacturing different components, such as lightweight buckles are made from titanium, while air ducts are made from plastics. 3D printing technology offers the maximum flexibility in product designing and manufacturing, allowing complex parts can be manufactured easily.
3D printing technology is being used for manufacturing engines and structures used in spacecraft and rockets as they are light in weight. They also have a small size, simple shape, and low cost. For instance, Canada plans to manufacture satellite parts using 3D technology. A Canada-based additive manufacturing agency named Canada Makes has partnered with a France-based metal manufacturer, FusiA and another Canada-based communication company, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) to manufacture satellite brackets using 3D printing technology.
Höganäs AB operates through a single business segment and provides powered metals to its customers in the metallurgical industry. Höganäs AB offers rapid manufacturing of complex parts using 3D printing through its digital metal service segment. The company serves the dental/medical, aerospace, and fashion designing industries, among others.
Arcam AB was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Mölndal (Sweden). The company provides additive manufacturing solutions for the production of metal components for use in the orthopedic implants and aerospace industries. Arcam Group offers its products and services through its three subsidiaries. Mölndal, the Sweden-based subsidiary of Arcam AB, provides industrial 3D printers to its customers, while the Canada-based AP&C subsidiary supplies metal powder for 3D printing. Arcam AB employs its patented EBM technology for the 3D printing process. Its products include 3D printers and metal powder auxiliary equipment and software. The 3D printers offered by the company find application in various industries, such as medical, aerospace, and automotive, among others.
EOS GmbH provides e-manufacturing solutions for designing and manufacturing various industrial components & tools, which are directly laser sintered from electronic data. It is one of the leading companies in the area of DMLS and a provider of polymer technology. The company offers modular solutions portfolio, which includes materials, software, and technical and consulting services for additive manufacturing.
Norsk Titanium AS, formerly known as Norsk Titanium Components AS, manufactures aerospace-grade titanium structures for the aerospace sector as well as for the defense, oil & gas, maritime, oceanic, and auto-sports sectors. The company has a presence and sales offices in Oslo, Norway, and New York. Norsk Titanium AS operates as a subsidiary of Scatec AS.
MTU Aero Engines AG, formerly known as MTU Munchen, was founded in 1934 and is headquartered in Munich (Germany). The company manufactures aircraft engines and offers service support for military and civil aircraft engines.
EnvisionTEC GmbH, founded in 2002, has its European headquarters located in Gladbeck (Germany) and its corporate headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan (U.S.). The company manufactures 3D printers and offers 3D printing materials and software. It is among the leading additive manufacturing service providers for rapid manufacturing of customized parts in a variety of fields. EnvisionTEC pioneered the development of the first commercial DLP-based 3D printing technology platform.
Ultimaker B.V. manufactures printing machinery and equipment through its subsidiaries to serve its customers, worldwide. It offers a range of 3D printing products, services, and solutions for the information & services and electronics sectors. Ultimaker B.V. is a private limited company and is headquartered in Geldermalsen (Netherlands).
Aerojet Rocketdyne was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Sacramento (U.S.). The company specializes in designing and building aerospace components using 3D printing technology. It provides propulsion and energetics for space missions, tactical missiles, and strategic and defense missiles, worldwide. The company is involved in the development and manufacturing of aerospace propulsion systems, armament systems, and precision tactical weapon systems for warhead and munition applications.
Essentra is a leading provider of essential components and solutions. Every day the company produces and distributes a huge number of small but essential products. Essentra’s international network extends to 34 countries and includes, 50 principal manufacturing facilities, 32 sales and distribution operations and 3 research & development centres.
Universal Alloy Corporation supplies aircraft manufacturers and their subcontractors worldwide and has served the aircraft industry for over four decades. We specialize in 2000- and 7000-series alloys, but offer a full range of alloys and tempers that can be tailored to your particular application.