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Boeing 787 Aircraft Using 3D Printing Titanium Parts
Apr 15, 2017

As a manufacturing giant, Boeing's favor for 3D printing is no doubt. 3D prints are lighter in weight, and for costly aircraft, this means lower costs.

On April 11th, Norwegian 3D printing company Norsk Titanium (Titan)announced the receipt of orders from Boeing. Boeing will purchase the company's 3D print structure for the Boeing 787 titanium parts.

Because of the metal titanium fiber fuselage and wings of the model, it requires more titanium than the average aircraft. According to iTnews quoted industry insiders reported that high and light lightweight titanium alloy than aluminum seven times in the Boeing 787 up to 265 million US dollars in total cost, which accounted for 17 million US dollars in costs.

Boeing has produced 144 of its 787s a year, although Boeing has refused to disclose cost savings, but Norsk Titanium said the cost of manufacturing each Boeing 787 will be $ 200 million to $ 3 million.

Boeing designed these components and worked closely with Norsk Titanium throughout the development process.

At present, four 787 parts have been designed. These components will be carried out using Norsk Titanium's Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) process. Boeing chose to use the technology for the near-net forming of titanium alloy structures, which supersedes traditional manufacturing processes such as forging.

In order to ensure the use of these structural components on the Boeing 787, Boeing and Norsk Titanium performed a rigorous testing program and eventually won the FAA certification of the first 3D-printed titanium alloy structure in February 2017. Norsk Titanium became the first supplier of Boeing's high deposition rate material specifications.

Norsk Titanium expects US regulators to approve the printing and production of these components later this year. If all this goes well, the future will be able to Boeing other 3D printing titanium alloy parts of the mass production, without the need for each part FAA certification process. ·

In terms of specific production arrangements, Norsk Titanium said the production was initially carried out in Norway, but plans to start the company's 6220 square meter print shop in Plattsburg, New York by the end of this year, where there are nine professional printers.

It is worth mentioning that these RPD components for the Boeing 787 will be on display at the International Paris Airshow in Brussels, France, from 19 to 25 June 2017.

3D printing is expected to significantly reduce manufacturing costs. So not only Boeing, world-class manufacturing giants are more or less in the 3D printing effort, GM, Ford, BMW and other auto manufacturers, as well as Nike, Adi, Andaman and other sports shoes brands are among them.

However, coincidentally, Boeing's opponent Airbus has also worked with the Norwegian 3D printing company. Air Aerospace's subsidiary, Premium Aerote, has begun to produce titanium alloy parts by selective laser melting of 3D printing technology, which has also tested Norsk Titanium's fast plasma deposition equipment and plans to use the technology to produce the Airbus A350 XWB Titanium alloy parts.

In addition to its partnership with Norsk Titanium, Boeing has recently set up a venture capital firm, HorizonX, to invest in innovative technology startups. HorizonX will focus on 3D printing, unmanned vehicles, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other fields, one year intends to invest "tens of millions of dollars."

HorizonX's director said Boeing's goal is not necessarily to profit directly from HorizonX's investment company, but to promote those who can benefit from their own technology, such as 3D printing, unmanned vehicles, wearable equipment. HorizonX is expected to invest in technology companies that will bring their products and technologies to market in the next five to fifteen years.

From the world's major manufacturers of action point of view, 3D printing technology has been increasingly used for mass production. On Friday, Adidas launched the first energy production of 3D shoes, a pair of shoes production time is expected to shorten to 20 minutes. In early March, Ford announced that it was testing 3D printing technology for printing large auto parts, which could allow consumers to customize their car products at a lower price. Ford became the first car manufacturer to use this emerging technology to drive parts mass production.

With 3D printing more and more for industrial production, then the aircraft, the car will reduce the cost, not only manufacturers can reduce production costs, consumers are expected to lower prices to buy cars, buy tickets. 3D printing is not just a shiny label, it is getting closer and closer to the consumer.