Additive manufacturing, making magic – SimplyFly by Safran, episode 10

Additive manufacturing, making magic – SimplyFly by Safran, episode 10


Hello. As you know, engines
and other mechanisms on airplanes and helicopters need parts packed with sophisticated
technology and complex geometries made from state-of-the-art materials. That’s why this new technology
called “additive manufacturing” or more commonly “3D printing” is opening up exciting new possibilities
in this industry. We call it “additive manufacturing”
because it involves adding materials. It’s the opposite of traditional machining,
which involves removing materials. It’s a bit like that 3D printer
your nephew got last Christmas: first the engineers design models
on computers then the printer manufactures them,
in 3 dimensions by adding materials,
layer upon layer. But that’s as far as the analogy
with your nephew’s 3D printer goes. Additive manufacturing uses very specific machines
and processes. So, let’s start with
“laser powder bed fusion.” Here, the laser melts and fuses
thin layers of metal powder. The tiny beads of metal gradually merge
into the shape we want. We can also use “laser projection”. This system is especially useful
for repairs, when we need to add material
to a part. It involves placing the material
in the place we need it then melting it in contact with the part. We could mention plenty of other
additive manufacturing processes. This is a new field and there is a lot
of research and innovation going on. The parts made this way are
one-block units, meaning no assembly. They’re also lighter
and can serve new purposes. Well, not that precise purpose, no.
But there are other advantages! As development cycles are shorter additive manufacturing also means
we can be more agile and for example,
can build prototypes faster. And, as additive manufacturing uses
the exact amount of materials needed manufacturers can carry less stock
and consume a lot less power which helps to protect the environment. Even though the production methods
are different the subsequent qualification,
approval and certification processes are exactly the same as the ones
for conventional technologies. Making aircraft parts still involves the stringent standards and processes
that only manufacturers can deliver. Safran is already using
these technologies to manufacture several parts,
already in the air every day. For example fuel injectors
in helicopter engines. With additive manufacturing,
we can now produce – instead of 15 separate components
that need assembling – one single part. There, you know everything.
Or nearly everything. Before we leave you,
note that additive manufacturing is opening up new possibilities. It will transform production
and fast-track development cycles and engineers will be able
to imagine parts that are… undreamt of today! But you’d better let engineers
take care of all that not magicians!

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