Finnair Hires AM Craft to 3D Print Plastic Parts for Aircraft Interiors

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Riga-based AM Craft, a supplier specialized in 3D printing aviation components and certified under EASA Part 21G, announced a significant achievement today. The company will assist in upgrading Finnair’s A320 fleet with additive manufacturing (AM). While much of the excitement around 3D printing in aviation focuses on metal components, polymer parts also play a crucial role, particularly in the production of interior components, where they can make a substantial difference.

Finnair has commissioned AM Craft to 3D print Passenger Service Units (PSUs) fill panels for its Airbus A320 fleet. The PSUs are the overhead panels that can include features such as air conditioning nozzles and lamps. For this project, the panels were previously equipped with flip-down overhead TV screens that had become outdated. The new panels are designed to replace the existing ones seamlessly. AM Craft will supply 300 of these components for a total of 17 aircraft. Designed and made in house by AM Craft, the panel is lightweight, with AM Craft also able to certify and provide airworthiness certification.

“Since starting the installation campaign of the printed panels as a fleet-wide solution during the fourth quarter of 2023, the work has been progressing smoothly and on schedule thanks to the support from AM Craft. The parts we received from AM Craft were of high quality and delivered on time. Though they were a new supplier for us on the PSU project, we have been very impressed by their expertise and professionalism and look forward to continuing to work with them,” said Totti Pekonen, Manager Cabin & Payload Engineering for Finnair.

“This project is a great example of how well additive manufacturing fits within the aviation sector. As the average age of the commercial fleet continues to grow, there are many opportunities where it makes sense to redesign a part and produce only the quantity needed rather than try to leverage the long lead-times of the original source. With additive manufacturing, we can realize great low-volume, high-mix economics, and we can often reduce part count and weight in the process. Without additive manufacturing, this could have been a much slower and more expensive project, but because AM Craft can manage the entire project to design and certify a printable solution, Finnair saved time and money, and also significantly reducing the weight of these parts. Now that this part has been developed, certified, and added to our digital catalog, it will be available to Finnair, or any other airline that requires this solution for an A320, again at any point in the future,” stated AM Craft Chief Commercial Officer Janis Jatnieks.

AM Craft, which utilizes approved overseas production partners, has the capability to manufacture parts outside of its main facility, and can also adjust the sizes of these components as needed. The company employs both 450 and 900 Stratasys Fortus 3D printers and uses ULTEM 9085 filament to produce the panels. While much of the focus in 3D printing has been on metals, particularly for new aircraft, the use of 3D printing for polymer parts in maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO), as well as upgrades and refits for existing aircraft, represents a significant opportunity.

Fused deposition modeling technology, along with long-approved ULTEM grades, is already being utilized for various MRO and refit projects across many aircraft types. Powder bed fusion could potentially be used in similar applications as well. The competitive and extensive aircraft interior business could greatly benefit from increased use of 3D printed components, not only in commercial aviation but also in general aviation, where it is already being used in many interior applications. Corporate jets and specialized vehicles such as air ambulances often require low-volume or custom parts that are ideal for 3D printing.

Much of the aircraft interior business involves custom, low-volume parts and significant manual labor. 3D printing can drastically reduce the time and cost associated with producing jigs and fixtures, and can help companies secure contracts by allowing faster and more cost-effective part production. The case of AM Craft underscores the substantial potential for companies to attract clients and secure meaningful projects by leveraging 3D printing in polymers for aviation MRO, refits, and custom part production.

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