Boeing backs titanium fusion bed process for 3D printing

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Boeing and additive manufacturing service provider Oerlikon are to jointly develop standard materials and processes for metal-based 3D printing over the next five years.

The companies said that the research will initially focus on industrializing titanium powder bed fusion additive manufacturing and ensuring parts made with this process meet the flight requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense.

Leo Christodoulou, Boeing’s chief technologist, said, “This is an important step toward fully unlocking the value of powder bed titanium additive manufacturing for the aerospace industry.

“Boeing and Oerlikon will work together to standardize additive manufacturing operations from powder management to finished product and thus enable the development of a wide range of safe, reliable and cost-effective structural titanium aerospace components.”

Dr Roland Fischer, Oerlikon Group CEO, said, “This program will drive the faster adoption of additive manufacturing in the rapidly growing aerospace, space and defense markets.

“Working together with Boeing will define the path in producing airworthy additive manufacturing components for serial manufacturing. We see collaboration as a key enabler to unlocking the value that additive manufacturing can bring to aircraft platforms and look forward to partnering with Boeing.”

Boeing and the Swiss company Oerlikon added that the data from their partnership will be used to support the qualification of additive manufacturing suppliers. The data will also help them to produce metallic components using a variety of machines and materials for applications in aviation.

In 2017, Boeing became the first aerospace manufacturer to design and install an FAA-qualified 3D-printed structural titanium part on a commercial airplane, the 787 Dreamliner.

February 20, 2018

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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