USA-based Stratasys has launched the Fortus 900mc Aircraft Interiors (AI) Certification Solution, a 3D printing solution that, as its name implies, is based on the company’s Fortus 900mc fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer and intended for the manufacture of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)- and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)-certified aircraft interior parts.
The solution comprises: the latest edition of the Fortus 900mc printer, which features hardware and software designed to facilitate high repeatability of mechanical properties; and ULTEM 9085 resin, a strong and lightweight thermoplastic material that meets aerospace flame, smoke and toxicity (FST) regulations (Federal Aviation Regulations [FAR] 25.863).
3D printing’s increased adoption by aircraft interior parts manufacturers is reliant on its ability to produce parts that are consistent in quality and afford repeatable characteristics. According to a recent Deloitte University Press article titled 3D opportunity for aerospace and defense, ‘Additive manufacturing (AM) providers need to improve existing systems to be able to consistently deliver high-quality parts; only then will AM likely reach its full potential in the A&D industry.’
The Fortus 900mc AI Certification Solution is currently undergoing a qualification test program, overseen by the FAA at the National Center for Advanced Materials Performance (NCAMP), part of the National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University, in Kansas, USA. Stratasys is to assist customers in qualifying the solution so that it equates to the NCAMP dataset.
This is said to be ‘the first of its kind’ NCAMP qualification of a 3D printing process and its objective is to eliminate the complexities of FAA and EASA certification, allowing aerospace organizations to obtain more certified 3D printed parts in less time and therefore at reduced cost.
A qualified 3D printing process for producing certified aircraft interior parts offers significant advantages in terms of both the product offerings of aircraft interior manufacturers and supply chain efficiency in the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) segment.
The Fortus 900mc AI Certification Solution is intended to allow aircraft interior manufacturers to produce low-volume, lightweight parts that are customized to end-customer requirements.
Aircraft MRO companies keep substantial spare part inventories, often incurring decades of expense on parts that may never be used. The printing of certified parts on demand is therefore expected to reduce inventory considerably as well as eliminate its obsolescence.
Scott Sevcik, head of aerospace, defense and automotive solutions, Stratasys, said: ‘Until now, the process of achieving FAA certification for 3D printing has been limiting the adoption of additive manufacturing in aviation. There have been limited specialized solutions and statistical datasets available to support this complex process. With the new Stratasys Fortus 900mc Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution, we are removing major obstacles and making it much easier to 3D print airworthy parts, improving repeatability and performance.’
The qualification test program is scheduled for completion by September 2017 and publication of the final NCAMP qualification report is to follow. The solution can be preordered and is expected to be widely released on completion of the test program.