3D printing software and service provider Materialise NV (NASDAQ:MTLS) is extending its role in the field of maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) for the aerospace sector. Together with Proponent, the world’s largest independent aerospace distributor, and Stirling Dynamics, a leading EASA 21.J-certified aerospace design organization, the company aims to revolutionize aircraft cabin solutions through the use of 3D printing.
Building upon its 2021 partnership with Proponent, Materialise is working with the two other enterprises to provide the aerospace aftermarket with certified 3D-printed cabin solutions. Stirling Dynamics will focus on crafting enhanced, certified designs for 3D-printed interior cabin parts, including comprehensive documentation and installation instructions. Meanwhile, Materialise will apply its certified production capabilities as a 21.G POA and Proponent will leverage its expansive distribution network. Altogether, the goal is to This integration is to simplify the adoption of 3D-printed solutions by OEMs and aircraft operators, lowering the barriers to integration of advanced manufacturing technologies.
“By combining our respective expertise, we are creating a powerful alliance with the skills needed to lower AM adoption barriers in the aeronautics industry,” says Jurgen Laudus, Vice President of Materialise Manufacturing. “We present the opportunity to design, produce, and distribute certified 3D-printed solutions, supporting the aerospace aftermarket in leveraging the exceptional benefits of 3D printing.”
Stirling Dynamics is part of the Expleo group, a technology and engineering consulting company that boasts a significant global footprint with over 15,000 employees spread across 80 locations. In 2021, the group recorded €1 billion in revenues, a 12% growth from the previous year. As a major player in the aerospace distribution industry, Proponent specializes in aerosystems, seats, and cabin interior equipment.
Bandula Pathinayake, VP of Stirling Dynamics, said, “We are really excited to be partnering with Materialise and Proponent to collectively bring the aviation market a true end-to-end service for aircraft modification and repairs. As an EASA-approved Part 21.J Design Organization (EASA.21J.807), we are passionate about innovation, and we look forward to applying our extensive design capabilities to meet the unique challenges of aviation customers.”
This collaboration has already borne fruit, with several cabin repair solutions being developed between Stirling Dynamics and Materialise. These solutions address specific issues encountered in aircraft cabins. Proponent plays a crucial role in this ecosystem by leveraging its relationships with OEMs to develop endorsed and certified solutions, making them accessible to operators globally.
Erik Krol, Proponent Vice President of Strategic Business Units: “With Stirling Dynamics joining our partnership, we can offer our OEM partners qualified solutions that can easily be incorporated into their aftermarket supply chain. Through this partnership, OEMs can deliver spare parts and repairs in an extremely cost-effective way, ultimately benefiting the airlines and MROs.”
Now that 3D printing for aerospace is maturing, the MRO market represents a key entry point for AM companies. According to Oliver Wyman’s Global Fleet and MRO Market Forecast, the global aftermarket for aviation, providing MRO services, is expected to grow 22 percent this year, reaching approximately $94 billion. This growth rate is close to the sector’s 2019 peak, and by 2033, the market is forecasted to reach $125 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 2.9%
Contributing to this growth are new developments in manufacturing, including 3D printing. According to the “Metal Parts Produced 2023: Global Market Data & Forecast” report from Additive Manufacturing Research, over 20 billion aerospace parts will be 3D printed in 2030. While there are other initiatives in the works to tackle 3D printing MRO components for aerospace, Materialise is one of the best primed to be a significant player due to its three decades of experience. As the segment for 3D printing end parts for aerospace began to take off early last decade, Materialise secured a significant spot in the industry when it began supplying Airbus with 3D printed parts for its A350 XWB planes in 2015. To do so, Materialise achieved EN9100 and EASA 21G certifications, enabling the Belgian firm to manufacture airworthy, additively manufactured end-use parts for aircraft.
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