Embracing 3D printing from the early days, aircraft engine manufacturers capitalized on the benefits of producing highly-complex, low volume components to reduce the cost of jet engine production, a major factor in aircraft operating costs. The innovation of this sector has demonstrated the ability to design intricate parts for improved functionality, rather than for manufacturability, and made additive manufacturing a must have for leading aerospace and defense manufacturers. The optimized topology of these builds allows for parts to maintain their same strength and load requirements while significantly reducing weight and playing a role in a key goal of the aerospace industry – to improve fuel efficiency.
Spacecraft and satellites are further areas of application that benefit from SLM technology due to their small batch sizes. Metal additive manufacturing allows the design freedom to integrate several parts into one, reducing weight and avoiding additional joining processes, which also lowers part cost and lead times.
Metal AM for aerospace applications often requires the use of high-performance materials, such as Titanium, Inconel or various superalloys. Growing parts additively with the selective laser melting process minimize material waste, as there is no subtractive chipping away of material, and metal powder is sieved and available for reuse in future builds. Additionally, the ability to print spare parts on demand avoids expensive set-ups and large warehouse stocks, streamlining the supply chain and material use.
Explore how selective laser melting from SLM Solutions will continue to transform the aerospace industry and its supply chain.
- Ability to lightweight designs through organic and aerodynamic geometries without compromising mechanical performance
- Improved functionality and part consolidation with designs unable to be traditionally manufactured
- Supply chain disruption as parts can be printed on-demand and manufacturing internalized
- Shortened development time for new components without the need for tooling
- Optimized use of high-strength alloy powders with minimal material waste
- Cost savings through part integration and optimized supply chains