Emirates Brings Step Change in 3D Printing for Aircraft Parts
Emirates has used cutting-edge 3D printing technology to manufacture components for its aircraft cabins by using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), a new and innovative 3D printing technique to produce video monitor shrouds, reaching a significant milestone in innovation
One of the other recent achievements has been the 3D printing, certification and installation of aircraft cabin air vent grills for onboard trials.
Emirates has worked with 3D Systems, a US based 3D printing equipment and material manufacturer and services provider, and with UUDS, a European aviation Engineering and Certification Office and Services Provider based in France, to successfully print the first batch of 3D printed video monitor shrouds using 3D Systems’ Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology platform.
The technology uses lasers to bind together powdered plastic into the required shape defined by a 3D model and is different from the Fusion Deposition Modelling (FDM) technique normally used for printing aircraft 3D parts.
The material used to print Emirates’ Video Monitor Shrouds is a new thermoplastic developed by 3D Systems - Duraform® ProX® FR1200 - with excellent flammability resistance properties and surface quality suitable for commercial aerospace business applications.
One of the major advantages of using the SLS technique is the reduced weight of printed components combined with optimisation of the strength of the parts produced.
Video monitor shrouds that are 3D printed using the SLS technique can weigh between 9 and 13% lighter than components manufactured traditionally or through the FDM technique.
This has the potential to lead to significant reductions in fuel emissions and costs when consolidated over the entire fleet of Emirates aircraft.
Additionally with the SLS technique it is possible to print more than one component at a time when compared with other 3D printing methods. This leads to quicker per-part production times and lesser wastage of raw materials used for production.
Emirates will evaluate the performance and durability of the 3D printed air vent grills and video monitor shrouds before further roll out across its fleet.
The airline will also continue to pursue other opportunities for introducing 3D printed components across its operations.