Manufacturing is done quite differently today than any time in the past. There is no better example of this than additive manufacturing; sometimes known as 3D printing.
Stratasys is a company that has successfully melded manufacturing and computing by using the process to land a deal with Airbus. Additive manufacturing is of great benefit to the aerospace industry in both time and cost reductions. Here’s why (and how Omegasonics fits into the picture)!
Traditional Manufacturing vs. Additive Manufacturing
Traditionally, machining was the method used to create parts for airplanes. In order to do this, a square piece of metal was placed on a machine and tools cut away the excess material to make the part. This process was wasteful in terms of materials. It was also time consuming. Additionally, the process limited the types of parts that could be manufactured because machining can only be as accurate as the cutting tools.
Additive manufacturing is done by a device called a 3D printer. A computer model of the part is created and then exported to the printer. Whatever material the part is going to be made out of is then loaded into the machine. The drawing is broken down into thousands and thousands of layers. The “printer” then moves along, putting a thin layer of the material down as well as a binder. The layers eventually build up into the completed part.
Not only is this process faster than traditional manufacturing, it also takes much less material. The other advantage is that there is no limitation to the shape of the part or how exact the dimensions of the part are. You are only limited by the engineer doing the design.
Aerospace, Precision and Convenience from Stratasys
This type of production is of particular interest to the aerospace industry for several reasons. First, an airline manufacture has planes that are scattered all over the globe. If a replacement part is required, the airplane is grounded until the part is produced at the machine shop and sent to the airport of the plane’s location.
With additive manufacturing, a technician can go online and download the part’s drawing over the internet. The part can then be loaded into the printer and created right at the airport where the plane is located. The precision from the printing process will be preserved in the drawing which means that the part will be exactly what the plane needs to get back into the air.
Omegasonics Cleans Up
The additive process can leave some loose material and edges that need to be cleaned up after the part is created and hardened. This is where Omegasonics comes in. Parts can be dropped into an ultrasonic cleaner to have any excess material removed and the parts come out clean of any debris that might cause sensitive aerospace systems to break. The newly manufactured and cleaned part can head straight to the flight line to get the plane up in the air and on its way!
Here’s to a long and successful relationship between Stratasys and Airbus!