While standards and regulations in any type of industry are necessary, it’s of the utmost importance to properly set them up in the aerospace field, especially when it comes to 3D printed parts and components – people’s lives are actually at stake. As the aerospace industry continues to increase its rate of adoption for additive manufacturing, many organizations are simultaneously working to further develop these important standards. This winter, Swiss technology and engineering group Oerlikon signed an agreement with Boeing to develop standard processes and materials for metal 3D printing. Now, Oerlikon is working with Lufthansa Technik to set up repeatable 3D printing processes in the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry.
“Lufthansa Technik is active in areas such as the cabin of the future, 3D printing, and Industry 4.0. We see the partnership with Oerlikon’s AM team as an exciting opportunity to accelerate Lufthansa Technik’s plan of having local AM repair capabilities on a global scale,” said Bernhard Krueger-Sprengel, Vice President, Engine Services, Lufthansa Technik.
Lufthansa is one of the world’s leading providers of aircraft and MRO services for civil aircraft, engines, and components, and is internationally certified as a maintenance, production, and design organization. With roughly 35 subsidiaries and affiliates and a workforce of over 25,000, the company has worked on a wide range of services, from conversion and overhaul to modification and digital fleet support, for both commercial and VIP/special mission aircraft, components, engines, and landing gear.
In addition, Lufthansa also manufactures innovative cabin products…making it a strong choice of partner for Oerlikon in jointly accelerating 3D printing standards and processes in the aerospace field.
Today, the two companies have announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in order to set up repeatable, robust 3D printing processes and standards for aircraft MRO applications, with an objective of using these processes on multiple machines in several different locations. This collaboration will help ramp up the industrialization of 3D printing in the aircraft MRO industry, along with taking advantage of the potential cost savings and flexibility in the industry’s manufacturing, procurement, warehousing, and supply chain management. Together, Lufthansa Technik and Oerlikon AM, a leading 3D printing service provider that offers a full-range of integrated AM services along the whole value chain, will work to build up representative component geometrics. These components will then be 3D printed on the same type of machine in three global locations: Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg, Germany; Oerlikon AM Barleben, Germany; and Oerlikon AM Charlotte, North Carolina in the US.
Dr. Roland Fischer, the CEO of Oerlikon Group, said, “We are confident that Oerlikon’s extensive expertise in additive manufacturing and the aerospace industry, combined with our proven ability to integrate solutions throughout the manufacturing value chain on a global scale will bring great benefits to Lufthansa Technik. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with Lufthansa Technik and working with them to develop reliable, repeatable and quality-assured additive manufacturing processes, standards and products for the MRO industry.”
Then, the same powder specifications and process parameters used to 3D print the aircraft components will later be used to help provide a better understanding of process repeatability. The results of this study will then be shared with relevant industry bodies, in order to lend support to the defining of standards for the approval and qualification of 3D printed aircraft components.
According to the MOU, this new partnership between Oerlikon and Lufthansa Technik will last for a period of one year, though it does have the possibility of being extended to additional 3D printer models as the two companies collect further data on manufacturing processes.
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