Collaborative Project Uses WAAM to 3D Print Stiffeners Directly on Airplane Fuselage Panels

Share this Article

Additive manufacturing is becoming widely used in the aerospace sector. The use to which the technology is being put to use in the manufacture of airplanes is becoming more diverse, from interior cabin elements to actual structural components. It will likely still be some time before we see an entirely 3D printed airplane that flies commercially, but many planes are becoming more 3D printed, one or two components at a time.

STELIA Aerospace, in partnership with Constellium, Centrale Nantes and CT Ingénierie, has developed a demonstrator for metallic self-reinforced fuselage panels, with stiffeners directly 3D printed on the surface. The demonstrator is part of a collaborative project called DEFACTO (DEveloppement de la Fabrication Additive pour Composant TOpologique), and was manufactured using Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing, or WAAM. WAAM involves 3D printing with metal wire and an electric arc like that used in welding. It’s fast and inexpensive compared to other methods of additive manufacturing, and was recently used to manufacture a history-making ship propeller. Because of its flexibility – it’s controlled by a robotic arm – it can manufacture components directly on the surface of a part.

Stiffeners are currently added to fuselage panels using welding and fixing screws, but the participants in the DEFACTO project believe that additive manufacturing could replace these current techniques in the long run. The demonstrator, which measures one square meter, was the result of fuselage topological optimization studies which were carried out by STELIA Aerospace and CT Ingénierie for several years. The large-scale 3D printing technology used to manufacture the demonstrator has the potential to change production and remove the constraints currently involved in the assembly of stiffeners.

STELIA Aerospace has been studying additive manufacturing with the support of Constellium and Ecole Centrale de Nantes, and in 2014 it launched a research strategy involving topological optimization studies that included 3D printing demonstrators for elementary parts such as fittings, large-dimension parts such as frames, and large sub-assemblies. The research strategy includes the DEFACTO project, which was planned for a 2.5-year basis and was co-financed by the participants and by the French Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGAC).

The benefits the project hopes to achieve include new designs, the integration of functions, less ecological impact through the use of less material, lower weight, and fewer recurring manufacturing costs.

“With this 3D additive manufacturing demonstrator, STELIA Aerospace aims to provide its customers with innovative designs on very large structural parts derived from new calculation methods (topological optimisation),” said Cédric Gautier, CEO of STELIA Aerospace. “Through its R&T department, and thanks to its partners, STELIA Aerospace is therefore preparing the future of aeronautics, with a view to develop technologies that are always more innovative and will directly impact our core business, aerostructures.”

STELIA Aerospace is a world leader in the manufacture of aerostructures, pilot seats, business class and first class passenger seats. The company designs and manufactures the front fuselage sections for the entire Airbus family, as well as fully equipped wings for ATR, fully equipped central fuselages for Bombardier’s Global7000, and complex parts for Boeing, Embraer, Northrup Grumman and others. STELIA Aerospace employs 6,900 employees across the world.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Images provided by STELIA Aerospace]

 

Share this Article


Recent News

Blueprint Webinar: The Business Case for 3D Printing Spare Parts

3D Printing & Conductivity: Fabricating Ultra-Stretchable Conductors



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Using Casting, Graphene, and SLM 3D Printing to Create Bioinspired Cilia Sensors

  What Mother Nature has already created, we humans are bound to try and recreate; case in point: biological sensors. Thanks to good old biomimicry, researchers have made their own...

Sinterit’s SLS 3D Printing and Flexible Materials Used to Make Strong Textiles for Opera Costumes

Engineering, textiles, and additive manufacturing are different industries with different growth patterns, but they are connected by an important point: structures. Additionally, each of these industries have to struggle with...

Sponsored

nScrypt Delivers 1 Meter Factory in a Tool to the US Army

Precision Micro-Dispensing and 3D printing manufacturer, nScrypt, based in Orlando, FL, whose bioprinter will travel to the International Space Station in 2019, has delivered a 3Dn-1000 multi-material Factory in a...

Sponsored

Sinterit is Going White

Is it possible to achieve white color on a small SLS 3D printer? This question was asked a hundred times. Somehow clients love white materials, but in selective laser sintering...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Print Services

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!