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New manufacturing solutions take shape with 3D printing

28 March 2017 Feature story

The advantages of 3D printing – also known as additive layer manufacturing – are being applied to the A330neo (New Engine Option) jetliner and BelugaXL airlifter, enabling fast reaction that saves both time and money. 

A prototype air nozzle was 3D printed for the A330neo passenger cabin’s climate control system, verifying a new configuration that is adapted to the aircraft’s larger overhead storage lockers. The enlarged storage is part of the new “Airspace by Airbus” cabin concept for an enhanced passenger experience – which is being introduced on the A330neo and will be incorporated on the A350 XWB as well. 

With the BelugaXL, new drilling templates were produced for operators using 3D printing, with the updated configuration matched to the production specifics of this oversized transport aircraft – a modified version of the A330 that will carry complete aircraft sections among the locations within Airbus’ production and final assembly network. 

Marc Carré, the Mock-Up Integrator for Manufacturing at Airbus Commercial Aircraft, said the objective is to make innovative ideas happen by supporting their inventors with the rapid capabilities of 3D printing. The printing occurs by building up successive layers of material in a computer-controlled chamber. 

“Operators come to me with a specific need and we discuss what’s possible, then I build a customised, computer-generated solution for manufacturing with the 3D printer,” Carré added.

 

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