7a3a4047-9009-4150-970b-da51761cce96Terry Wohlers has been a trendsetter in 3D printing much possibly longer than you even knew it existed. The founder of Fort Collins, Colorado-based Wohlers Associates (begun 29 years ago) is involved in work from offering advice regarding mergers and investments to writing industry reports and textbooks—and far more. Influential, internationally renowned, and as both a consultant and speaker, it would seem he has more positive things to say regarding the 3D printing industry than ever.

Now two heavy hitters have met to further education about the subject, looking toward the future as 3D printing allows for an entirely new industrial maturity throughout the world. Respecting Wohlers as someone who understands the technology ‘like no other,’ Premium AEROTEC invited the visionary to their Varel, Germany headquarters so he could share some of his expertise not just with the company, but to speak on 3D printing to an audience of over 100 professionals in the industry.

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Terry Wohlers, speaking at the Varel, Germany AEROTEC manufacturing headquarters. [Photo courtesy of AEROTEC]

The event marks not just the growing interest in 3D printing internationally, but also shows a growing level of commitment from the German manufacturer of production systems for commercial and military aircraft that we were following earlier in the year as they embarked on a partnership with Norsk Titanium. This is a company AEROTEC is collaborating with to begin offering 3D printed metal components to major client, Airbus, who will be looking at saving substantial amounts on each aircraft with 3D printed titanium parts—to the tune of shaving up to $3 million off the bottom line for each jet. Once the program comes to fruition, all involved will indeed be making history in manufacturing regarding the use of metal 3D printing and jet parts.

The speech by Wohlers was based on his highly acclaimed Wohlers Report, forthcoming for this year. Known for examining all points of the industry, in speaking to the audience Wohlers discussed recent developments spanning numerous industries. A main topic was also that of how 3D printing technology is breaking down barriers in production. Obviously quite relevant to the aerospace industry, Wohlers’ vast knowledge was highly valued at the venue.

“It is a special honor for Premium AEROTEC as an upcoming player in 3D printing to welcome Terry Wohlers in our new factory for additive manufacturing,” said Dr. Thomas Ehm, Chairman of the Board of Premium AEROTEC. “We have established the necessary industrial setup, started series production of the first 3D printed aerospace parts made from titanium and are approaching finalization of the general process qualification.”

Hosting Wohlers is a solid move for further education for all involved regarding the industry as well as gaining a healthy perspective of what needs to be considered, as the famed speaker is known for giving an extremely well rounded view looking at not just all the barriers being eliminated, but also those that are still there and examining why. Obviously, this is an industry effecting great change, and that’s not easy for all companies—or countries—to transition into, while some large corporations do begin to garner a great deal of attention as they open facilities centered completely around 3D printing practices and innovation.

Both AEROTEC’s interest and global position in 3D printing have been amping up slowly, and the company states that their development and production capabilities have indeed ‘been significantly enhanced.’ In the past, AEROTEC used traditional machining and welding processes to produce metal objects like brackets, as well as more complex systems involving sophisticated tubing. As they continue their journey with Airbus and the A400M programme, the company now sees themselves as fully ready to take on a new form of industrial processes by way of additive manufacturing.

“Premium AEROTEC’s competencies and industrial capacity enable the company to master the entire additive manufacturing process chain from initial design to the delivery of certified components,” stated the company in a recent press release.

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[Photo: Courtesy of AEROTEC]

They, like many other corporations currently seeing the benefits of 3D printing and additive manufacturing, are looking toward both the savings and higher productivity allowed through the technology, as well as speed in production—without a sacrifice in the area of safe, high quality components.

“…the reduction in production time results from combining the time consuming former casting and welding processes into a single step,” states AEROTEC succinctly in their press release.

This is a company that fits in directly with Wohlers model in predicting which areas will be moving into using 3D printing and succeeding, as they are able to pass the benefits on to their clients, who are certainly respected industry leaders as well.

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[Photo: Courtesy of AEROTEC]

Premium AEROTEC specializes in developing metal and carbon fiber composites for aircraft, and they also make peripheral systems and equipment according to customer needs. In 2014, revenues were reported to be close to 1.9 billion euros. They also operate production headquarters in Augsburg, Bremen, and Nordenham, and Braşov in Romania. Have you heard Wohlers speak before? Discuss in the Wohlers Speaks 3D Printing at AEROTEC forum over at 3DPB.com.

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Norsk Titanium and AEROTEC are working together steadily in testing and manufacturing 3D printed titanium components for Airbus aircraft, which will save the company up to $3 million per jet.

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