3D printers have revolutionized many industries in recent years, but before they started entering the consumer market, albeit mostly for the enthusiast crowd at the moment, they were getting used in everything from Formula 1 to aerospace technology. The Airbus A350 XWB jet however, has more 3D printed parts than any other, clocking in a staggering 1000 parts that were created using 3D printed techniques.
1000 3D printed parts means that the Airbus has more printed parts than any other aircraft. The reason for this is that 3D printed parts can be made in shapes and forms that normal machine processes simply cannot replicate. What may take several parts that need to be welded or bolted together using traditional methods, can be printed as a single object. This means that the parts can be lighter and also easier to produce helping save on manufacturing costs, as well as reducing the weight of the craft, thereby saving fuel in flight.
“From what I can gather it’s certainly unprecedented in scale,” said James Woodcock, an expert on 3D printing with Rapid News. “Historically, the use of 3D printed parts have been in military aircraft rather than commercial passenger jets.”
The plane was delivered in December 2014, so it’s certainly nothing new, but the news that they used the Stratasys FDM 3D Production System so extensively was unknown. The technique also helped Airbus complete their deadline for building the craft a lot sooner.
It’s amazing to see what 3D printing can do, besides making novelty keyrings and knock-off LEGO bricks.
Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.