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Stratasys Invests in AM Craft for 3D Printed Aircraft Interiors

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Latvian firm AM Craft announced a significant move at RAPID + TCT by partnering with additive manufacturing stalwart Stratasys (Nasdaq: SSYS). AM Craft, a service bureau with EASA Part 21G Production Organization Approval, can certify the airworthiness of the parts it makes and designs. The firm uses Stratasys printers and has demonstrated success by creating a panel component for Finnair, showcasing its capability to produce interior components.

If an airline has a need, AM Craft can handle the analysis, design, and production to create the right part for the right requirement. In aircraft interiors, low volumes, unique designs, and stringent regulatory rules make production costly, critical, and potentially profitable. Stratasys is partnering with AM Craft to foster the production of more crucial parts using its machines. Additionally, Stratasys is investing in AM Craft, which will naturally lead to more use of its materials and machines.

Furthermore, general aviation and interiors companies are sure to take notice, making it more likely they will turn to Stratasys machines for these applications.

“The low volume, high mix nature of the aviation aftermarket has resulted in extreme challenges to supply even the most minor of parts necessary to keep global fleets flying. Additive manufacturing addresses those challenges by cost-effectively producing at the rates and volumes required. AM Craft’s EASA-approved approach to certification takes this burden off the end customer,” Stratasys Senior Vice President Jeff Hemenway said.

 “Aligning with Stratasys will further strengthen the confidence of our customers that we can supply them with needed parts. Given Stratasys’ leadership in additive manufacturing we will continue to drive the adoption of 3D printing in the airline and MRO industries. Their technology is an ideal fit for aviation,” AM Craft CEO Didzis Dejus stated.

¨Aviation is a global industry, and our customers see localization of production as a major advantage that AM Craft can offer. By aligning with Stratasys and Additive Flight Solutions, we are better able to meet our customers’ needs to be in more major MRO hubs. In addition to being where our customers need us to be, it’s also critical that we continue to build the catalog of parts. We believe that this collaboration with Stratasys, as well as other major aviation suppliers and distributers, will help us to accelerate our future growth,” said Scott Sevcik, AM Craft VP of Strategy and Business Development.

Stratasys already makes aviation MRO parts through its Singapore-based Additive Flight Solutions (AFS) unit, which will now be taken over by AM Craft. Additionally, AM Craft will open a location in Hamburg. In the UAE, another partner company, Paradigm 3D, completes the network. A salient detail is that former Stratasys executive Sevcik, who used to run AFS and was in charge of aviation at Stratasys, is now a board member at AM Craft. It is hard not to see this consolidation as partly due to his drive and moxie.

For AM Craft, this puts them in the driving seat for MRO in aviation. Having a globe-spanning network is crucial for servicing airlines, as they often prefer parts to be made in their host countries or near their main MRO sites to minimize aircraft downtime. It’s surprising how few polymer aviation-specialized MRO players exist, with AM Craft, Materialise, and Antemo being notable exceptions. There is a first-mover advantage in this field.

Companies like Lufthansa Technik (based in Hamburg), TCI, and others have a high interest in 3D printing. Beyond MRO players, other firms could also be interested. Diehl, which makes lighting solutions, or seating firms such as Jamco and Geven, could deploy this technology. VIP interiors and integration companies like Astronics could make extensive use of this service to integrate components. These companies, locked in periodic intense competition, would like to explore 3D printing beyond what they currently do. They will likely look at the young upstart and perhaps send some orders its way to test its capabilities.

Additionally, airlines and firms such as NetJets are prospective clients. There are many potential partners and companies that could eventually buy AM Craft. With this investment, Stratasys aims to elevate and anoint a firm using its technology as a leader in the aviation MRO space. This is a smart move for Stratasys as well.

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