The possibilities and scale of 3D printing are constantly growing. The French company Stelia Aerospace has unveiled the first printed self-reinforced aircraft fuselage panel made from inexpensive, lightweight and environmentally friendly components.
Aerospace manufacturing is complex, labor-intensive, and costly, with hundreds of thousands of parts to deal with that need to be combined into a high-tech end product. For example, the fuselages are made of thin-rolled aluminum alloy, which is reinforced with a kind of "skeleton" - a system of stiffeners.
The problem is that the stiffeners are installed using screws and welding, after which the reliability of their installation must be carefully checked.
The fuselage with three-dimensional stiffeners is a joint project of Stelia Aerospace, Constellium aluminum, Centrale Nantes engineering school and CT Ingenierie group. One-piece metal sample with an area of 1 sq. The meter was created by a robotic installation using the so-called WAAM (Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing) process.
It resembles 3D printing technology, where molten plastic flows through a nozzle to form an object. Only in this case, instead of plastic, aluminum wire is used, melted by an electric arc, which means that the stiffeners will be printed immediately, and not added later.
The company's management hopes that the new method will become the basis for a full-scale production of additives that will greatly simplify the creation of complex metal structures.