GE Aviation, Lockheed & Optomec Star in Metal 3D Printing Project
The Anniston Army Depot repaired components of the Abrams M1 Tank AGT1500 engine using an Optomec LENS 3D printer, eliminating the high-heat welding process used with traditional methods that can cause distortion effects. This process is now the subject of a $4 million Optomec-headed America Makes project for the Air Force. (Source: Anniston Army Depot)
Really like the direction this program is taking with creating spare parts for legacy flight programs through the use of 3D printing. Since the fabrication of these spare parts is typically high mix and low volume, in many cases, this will prove to be an outstanding fit.
Aside from prototyping and, in some cases, end-production manufacturing, one of the most promising use cases for metal 3D printing and additive manufacturing is for repairing high-value components. But additive manufacturing techniques are not created equal for any of these. The conformal layers that can be achieved with the LENS process on non-flat surfaces of parts makes it stand out for this application.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
Design engineers play a big role in selecting both suppliers and materials for their designs. Our most recent Design News Materials Survey says they continue to be highly involved, in some ways even more than the last time we asked to peek inside their cubicles.
Daihatsu is one of the first carmakers to customize car exteriors using 3D printing's mass customization capabilities. Effect Skins -- small exterior bumper and fender panels in different colors and textures -- can be ordered for its Copen convertible.
Several new products in this group of new adhesives, coatings, and sealants are formulated to protect sensitive electronic components, or to seal components of commercial and military aircraft. Others are designed to operate in tough, messy, dirty oil & gas operations, or for rotary applications and motors.
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