Additive manufacturing used on over 1,000 Airbus A350 XWB parts

The first-of-type Airbus A350 XWB delivered in December
last year contained over 1,000 3D printed resin parts.

In a statement from Stratasys yesterday, the company –
which has worked with Airbus since 2013 – announced that the extra-wide-body
aircraft featured parts made out of the Ultem 9085 thermoplastic material.

The components were created through FDM on a production-level
machine.

“Additive manufacturing
also greatly improves the buy-to-fly ratio as significantly less material is
wasted than with conventional manufacturing methods,” said Dan Yalon,
Executive Vice President, Business Development, Marketing & Vertical
Solutions at the 3D printing company.

Benefits included increased supply chain flexibility
and weight reductions. The ULTEM print feedstock is FST complaint for aircraft
interior applications.

James Woodcock, a 3D
printing commentator with Rapid News told the BBC that 3D
printing has historically been used in military rather than commercial
aircraft.

Although the 1,000 additively manufactured parts is more than on any other plane, they only represent a small
portion of the components on the A350 XWB.

The XWB has a range of 7,750 nautical miles, notes ZDNet, and seats 315. The first plane was delivered to Qatar Airways.

According to Stratasys, Ultem is “ideal for
the transportation industry due to its high strength-to-weight ratio and its FST (flame, smoke and toxicity) rating.”

Image: Airbus