Boeing and Oerlikon Collaborate To Help 3D Printing Soar

Additive manufacturing also known as 3D printing has advanced to the point where it can be used for far more than just rapid prototyping. An ever expanding list of available materials, increased accuracy and its amazing capabilities have lead to a 3D printing revolution. With its ability to manufacture complex geometries out of materials like Titanium, it caught the attention of the aerospace industry early on. Now, Boeing and engineering group Oerlikon have entered a into a collaborative partnership to develop standard materials and processes for metal-based additive manufacturing for the aerospace industry.

The five-year agreement between Boeing and Oerlikon will use the data from the collaboration to create an environment where businesses can trust the suppliers and metallic components that are 3D printed. Their research will initially focus on titanium powder bed fusion additive manufacturing. Boeing and Oerlikon want to ensure that parts which are produced through this advanced manufacturing method will meet Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense requirements. Having these standards in place could have profound impact on aerospace manufacturing and defense industry as a whole. If manufacturers have the ability to source additive manufactured components from qualified suppliers, it could make them much more likely to invest in revolutionary manufacturing process.

“This agreement is an important step toward fully unlocking the value of powder bed titanium additive manufacturing for the aerospace industry,” Leo Christodoulou, Boeing Chief Technologist stated. “Boeing and Oerlikon will work together to standardize additive manufacturing operations from powder management to finished product and thus enable the development of a wide rage of safe, reliable and cost-effective structural titanium aerospace components.”

According to Oerlikon CEO Roland Fischer, the goal of the partnership is to accelerate the adoption of additive manufacturing in the aerospace, space, and defense markets. Without the kind of standards Boeing and Oerlikon want to create, businesses won’t be able to fully utilize the technology. Being able to create a trusted standard for industries to go by will also offer more incentive for businesses to invest in the technology. Entrepreneurs that have their sights set on starting an additive manufacturing business may avoid the industry because of the uncertainty that their parts being accepted by potential clients. 3D printing startups focused on aerospace, space or defense markets must have standards to follow, ensuring their components meet industry requirements.

“We see collaboration as a key enabler to unlocking the value that additive manufacturing can bring to aircraft platforms and look forward to partnering with the largest and most respected aerospace company in the world,” Fischer explained.

It will be exciting to keep an eye on how this partnership develops over the next five-years. Be sure to check back on to follow Boeing and Oerlikon’s progress.


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