3D Printed Airplane Parts : Airlines Finding Value

3D Printed Aircraft Interiors

When Stratasys Aerospace, SIA Engineering Company, and Singapore’s Additive Flight Solutions (AFS) decided to join forces to propose additive manufacturing value to airlines, the aerospace industry took a listen. The value proposition is for 3D printed airplane parts, business models to be offered to the airlines. They proposed cases for aircraft cabins and what obstacles must be overcome to adopt. The key technology is Additive Manufacturing to provide the solutions. While they have used FDM 3D printing technology to produce over 5,000 certified parts for aircraft cabins now, their work deals with functional parts in commercial aircraft cabins.

Here are the proposed aircraft cabin parts. The first is the seat cover that aims to protect seat controllers. Passengers sometimes accidentally activate the functional, often sensitive, buttons causing unintended movement and misunderstandings while in flight. The cover design is more suitable for 3D printing rather than the traditional technique of injection molding. The venture is proposing a solution to airlines that is more affordable, allows for faster production of a low volume order, and easier replacement of parts and maintenance. Another cover is for controlling the seat to prevent activation when baggage is pressed against them, or passengers hit them with their knees.

The next part included 3D printed supports for the underside of the passenger seat, meant to prevent damage due to wear and tear, and load and impact due to ongoing use. Due to weight requirements for airplanes, seats should be lightweight, however, they can also lack strength. There is another cabin part that can be 3D printed – the clip that holds back aircraft curtains which were often coming loose and the venture can 3D print an array of this.

Another part that can be 3D printed is the safety level catch for the emergency doors of the Boeing 787. It’s a critical part that ensures emergency doors do not open while the aircraft is on the ground, creating the potential for injuries as escape slides could be accidentally triggered.

Understandably, 3D printing does not answer all solutions in terms of aircraft cabin replacement parts, but there are many solutions to be offered to airlines. Flight companies like to dabble in endeavors with digital fabrication, add-ons like in-flight cocktails trays, in-flight catering, and other interior components.