Additive manufacturing began making an impact in aerospace nearly two decades ago. Its ability to save time and reduce costs in the development cycle while enhancing a product’s quality and design has led to its widespread adoption by the industry. The aerospace industry is slow to adopt new technologies for safety reasons, wanting to prove new materials and processes before going into production, however additive manufacturing is increasingly making its way onto aircraft.
Today, additive manufacturing is being used in both the commercial and military aerospace sectors, as well as by tier 1 and 2 suppliers. For example:
- Using direct metal laser melting, GE has revolutionized the manufacturing of its fuel nozzle injectors for its Leap jet engine. Nozzle weight was lowered by 25 percent, parts were reduced from 18 to one, and more complex cooling pathways and supports were created for a nozzle with a five-fold increase in durability
- NASA has created a largely 3D-printed rocket engine prototype1
- Norsk Titanium AS, a supplier of additive-manufactured titanium components, has received a production order for 3D-printed titanium structural components from Boeing2
Parker Aerospace: advancing AM
In keeping with Parker Aerospace’s commitment to additive manufacturing, the Stratoflex Products Division (SPD) of Parker Aerospace is exploring the use of AM for the creation of fluid conveyance products.
Stratoflex is developing a line of fluid conveyance products that can be cost-effectively produced in lower quantities with additive manufacturing. The new products will use fewer parts to provide equal or better reliability than the traditionally made parts they will replace.
These 3D-printed fluid conveyance components could be utilized in a wide range of applications, including:
- Engine systems
- Fuel systems
- Hydraulic systems
- Pneumatic systems
- Landing gear systems
- Potable water systems
- Cooling systems
“Today’s aerospace OEMs are looking for new ways to shorten lead times, lower costs, and reduce weight, while still enhancing reliability.”
“We’re finding that additive manufacturing is one way to meet those needs. Creating parts layer-by-layer facilitates complex geometries and streamlined designs. Our 3D-printed components can reduce part count by 50 percent or more, depending on the application. Given the number of fluid conveyance components used in aircraft systems, endless possibilities exist to reduce weight and envelope to improve performance.”
— Andrew Mau, Stratoflex Products Division chief engineer
The market leader in fluid conveyance systems and components, Stratoflex is working with experts at Parker’s dedicated corporate innovation center in Macedonia, Ohio, to further identify areas where AM could have the greatest benefit for its customers.
For additional information on Parker Aerospace systems and capabilities, please visit our website.
This post was contributed by Stephen Calvin, senior marketing manager at Parker Aerospace’s Stratoflex Products Division.