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Engineering Materials
Biggest, Fastest Titanium 3D Printer
10/8/2012

Airbus, aerostructure manufacturer Aerosud, and the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, are partnering to develop the biggest, fastest 3D printer possible for making titanium aircraft and satellite components. Shown here, the Airbus A380 demonstrator aircraft arrives at the 2012 Farnborough International Airport.   (Source: Airbus)
Airbus, aerostructure manufacturer Aerosud, and the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, are partnering to develop the biggest, fastest 3D printer possible for making titanium aircraft and satellite components. Shown here, the Airbus A380 demonstrator aircraft arrives at the 2012 Farnborough International Airport.
(Source: Airbus)

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naperlou
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Strength
naperlou   10/8/2012 10:48:16 AM
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Ann, this is interesting news.  One question I would have is on the strength of the materials.  In general, machined materials are stronger than injection molded materials.  Of course, if the strength is enough for the purpose, then that is enough.  Then the speed of manufactur is all important.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Strength
Ann R. Thryft   10/8/2012 12:35:30 PM
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Lou, the strength of the PM/sintered titanium powder metal parts produced by Dynamet has received approval from Boeing for use in structural aircraft parts, after a few years of testing. That news is pretty amazing on its own. The fact that Airbus has signed on to the Aeroswift aircraft structures project to help test selective laser-sintered titanium parts is another vote of confidence. It will be interesting to see what happens during that test phase.



Cadman-LT
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Great article
Cadman-LT   10/8/2012 1:04:26 PM
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Great article Ann. I always like learning about the new things they are doing with 3D printing. Titanium now, what's next? Keep the articles coming!

Dave Palmer
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Re: Strength
Dave Palmer   10/8/2012 1:06:21 PM
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@naperlou: Selective laser sintering typically doesn't yield a fully-dense part, so the mechanical properties would be significantly inferior to those of a forging.  On the other hand, it has been shown that selective laser sintering followed by hot isostatic pressing can give mechanical properties equivalent to conventionally-processed titanium.

It seems like a good move for South Africa to go from an exporter of raw materials to a manufacturer of high-tech components.  Other developing countries could benefit from this example.

Charles Murray
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Re: Strength
Charles Murray   10/8/2012 6:33:13 PM
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Ann, do we know how big the printer is, or how big the parts can be?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Strength
Ann R. Thryft   10/9/2012 12:35:16 PM
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Chuck, I looked all over for build volume and printer size with no luck. The only clue is that it's designed to build components of large aircraft structures. I'm guessing several feet per side of build volume. Very large 3D printers exist in architectural apps for use with sand and soil and their build volumes can be 2m x 2m x 5m up to 6m x 6m x 2m, and even larger in the works.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Strength and Size
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   10/9/2012 1:00:17 PM
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Ann - thanks for offering the large size baths that are still being developed.  I had no idea that 3D makers were developing apparatus that large. 6 meters square-?  That's enormous. That's about 50 feet across diagonal; large enough to make a wingspan frame.  Wow.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Strength and Size
Ann R. Thryft   10/9/2012 2:05:33 PM
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Jim, note that those huge build volumes are for building architecture apps, not for aircraft. We don't know the build volume of the Aeroswift machine.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Strength and Size
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   10/9/2012 6:38:18 PM
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OK, noted;  do you know an example of the architectural Apps -?  I'm fuzzy on that, and wondering if it's a stretch between architectural and aeronautical ,,, ?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Strength and Size
Ann R. Thryft   10/10/2012 12:09:20 PM
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Jim, the architectural apps are for buildings. If you google "3D printed buildings" you'll find several different versions. Unless you want to make airplanes out of sand and cement, there's no relationship in products. But figuring out to make larger build volumes is, to some extent, a generic 3D printing problem, which is why I mentioned the larger build volumes of the architectural apps.

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