The Aerospace and Defense (A&D) industry is a great example of utilization Additive Manufacturing (AM) (commonly referred to asĀ 3D Printing with a clear value proposition and the ability to create parts that are stronger and lighter than parts made using traditional manufacturing.

The A&D industry was a very early adopter of 3D printing and still continues to contribute heavily to its development.

Common 3D printing use-cases in aerospace

Jigs & Fixtures

3D Printing provides huge benefits to some of its more mundane applications like manufacturing Jigs & Fixtures. Hundreds of fixtures, templates, gauges and guides are 3D printed for each individual aircraft. This allows companies to achieve cost reductions between 60 to 90% and also reduces the manufacturing lead time compared to other processes.

Surrogates

Parts identical to original ones installed at later stages of final assemblies are commonly manufactured via 3D Printing. These components are known as Surrogates and are commonly used throughout the production process. Surrogates allow testing of components and help in the training of human resources as well. Several air force bases and aeronautics and space research organisations commonly use surrogate parts on the production floor.

A model of a jet engine for educational purposes.

Mounting brackets

3D printing technologies like DMLS/SLM are commonly used to manufacture structural and low-volume metal components that mount complex components to the walls of a plane.

High detail visual prototypes

Material Jetting 3D printing helps produce multicolor designs with a superior surface finish similar to that of injection molding. Visually appealing models made through this, allows designers to get a better understanding of the form and fit of components before moving ahead with production decisions.

Aerospace Components like door handles, light housings, control wheels, where reliance is more on aesthetics over function, are routinely manufactured using 3D printing.

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