At the International Paris Air Show this past summer, Stratasys Ltd. announced a new pathway to help aircraft manufacturers achieve certification of additively manufactured airline interior parts faster and in a more cost effective manner. The new Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution embodies a holistic approach to achieving traceability and repeatability from raw pellet to finished part using the company’s Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer and Stratasys certified ULTEM™ 9085 resin.
We caught up with Mark Fullen, Aerospace Segment Sales Lead recently to learn about Stratasys’ Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A conversation.
AMazing®: Mark, thank you for your participation. The company’s new aerospace solution, Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution, sounds exciting. What are some notable highlights of Stratasys’ new aerospace solution and what obstacles will it help aircraft manufacturers overcome?
Mark Fullen: Overall it enables interior suppliers the ability to offer their customers new aircraft interior configurations, such as customized interiors, faster and typically at a lower cost. For example, an airline could differentiate itself by creating a unique passenger experience along with integrating its marketing message within the cabin. The Stratasys aircraft interiors certification solution provides a method to 3D print parts that can be used directly within the aircraft.
The solution includes the necessary elements to meet their customer’s certification requirements, including certified ULTEMTM 9085 resin material traceability, validated hardware via our Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer model, process documentation, B-Base allowable datasets, and process guidance for equivalency qualification.
To provide some background, the testing program started back in October 2016 and is led by Cleveland-based additive manufacturing solutions provider, RP+M who is a long time parts provider in the additive industry. The team consists of RP+M, Stratasys, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, Wichita State University – National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR), and Lockheed Martin M&FC in conjunction with America Makes. The program is funded through the Secretary of Defense via the Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy under the Defense-wide Manufacturing Science and Technology (DMS&T) core program and has been combined with NIAR’s FAA sponsored program to develop a framework to advance polymer-based additively manufactured materials in the aerospace industry.
AMazing®: When should businesses consider exploring Stratasys’ Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution?
Mark Fullen: Customers should engage now. We already have a number of large aircraft interior OEMs actively participating. We’re working with them on finalizing the best candidate parts and validating real-world business cases. Also some aircraft manufacturers have been involved with the process and are already flying 3D printed interior parts.
The first steps revolve around us working with the customer to identify interior parts that solve business-justified reasons to use additive manufacturing. This involves a collaborative approach in reviewing their portfolio of parts and applying a weighted grading to identify good part candidates.
AMazing®: In an earlier press release, the solution process was undergoing a qualification program under FAA oversight at the National Center for Advanced Materials Performance (NCAMP). How is the qualification program coming along?
Mark Fullen: The qualification is still underway but nearing completion. Testing is complete and now the hard statistical analysis is underway. We’re targeting a release in the first quarter of 2018.Throughout the program, we’ve printed thousands of test specimens, which provided feedback on key aspects of the material quality, printer performance, and detailed process information. We’ve learned a lot and refined our approach. It’s all coming together in this solution.
AMazing®: As we understand, ULTEM™ 9085 resin will be the first additive polymer material to be qualified under the NCAMP umbrella.What benefits does a NCAMP qualified material offer to aircraft manufacturers and material suppliers? Are any other materials being considered for use with the Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution at this time?
Mark Fullen: We’re providing fully qualified and traceable ULTEM 9085 resin. The combination of the material, 3D printer, and process are absolutely critical to ensure the first and last part are the same. This is a fundamental requirement for any fly-away aircraft part or assembly.
ULTEM resin for FDM is the first to go through the NCAMP process for additive technologies, and will likely receive its own entry into CMH-17 with SAE specs to follow shortly after. This program lays the groundwork for all polymer-based additive material and processes resulting in meeting Aerospace standards.
We’re developing new materials to bring added value in additional applications, and we’ll announce those new materials as we prepare to bring them to market. NCAMP is a proven and trusted process used with composite materials for aerospace. ULTEM 9085 resin will be the first AM material to follow the process. NCAMP provides the ability to prove equivalency to the larger dataset without having to do a full qualification of the materials and process. It helps save the customer money and time. It eliminates work and greatly reduces risk because it’s a proven process.
The industry trusts NCAMP for the qualification of composite material systems and have been leveraging NCAMP qualified material systems to put parts on vehicles for more than a decade. The industry trusts and understands the process. Bringing additive manufacturing into this same framework means we’re not starting over – we’re leveraging the experience gained through introducing composites to aerospace so that we can enable additive to be adopted much faster.
AMazing®: What potential does Stratasys’ new aerospace solution offer to the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul segment?
Mark Fullen: Overall, the ability for faster aircraft turnaround back to the airline. This results in a key market differentiator for an MRO.
Typically the best part candidates are lower-volume parts or ones requiring expensive tooling and conventional manufacturing methods. Targeted areas to leverage Additive Manufacturing are in the first-class cabin, galleys, lavatories, lighting, and the cockpit. This also includes visible interior parts and also non-visible parts such as ducting and cable routing brackets. MROs and aircraft completion centers deal with this type of situation on a regular basis.
AMazing®: How do you envision Stratasys’ Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution will influence the next generation of additively manufactured parts?
Mark Fullen: Additive Manufacturing has historically been used as a streamlined prototyping capability for product development. Now it’s entering into production. To do that you need to also satisfy the overriding market regulations and compliance requirements. We’ve teamed with industry leading organizations to develop the process but the real differentiator is our Aircraft Interiors solution, which enables a complete path to using 3D printed parts in Aerospace production.
Historically, individual customers viewed the process to satisfy market regulation and compliance as a significant obstacle. And they’re right; if each company attempted to achieve compliance then it would be very expensive. So, via the collaboration on this solution and the America Makes program; we’re glad to offer customers a low-risk and cost-effective way to transition AM into production.
This is a major accomplishment.
This concludes our interview. Mark, thank you very much for your participation. We are very grateful for the opportunity to learn about Stratasys’ Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution and continued commitment to advanced manufacturing technology.
About Mark Fullen
Mark Fullen is Stratasys’s Aerospace Segment Lead. He focuses on partnering with customers providing proven solutions that meet the technical requirements along with achieving a successful customer business case. His contact information is Mark.Fullen@Stratasys.com.
About Stratasys Ltd.
Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS) is a global leader in applied additive technology solutions for industries including Aerospace, Automotive, Healthcare, Consumer Products and Education. For nearly 30 years, a deep and ongoing focus on customers’ business requirements has fueled purposeful innovations—1,200 granted and pending additive technology patents to date—that create new value across product lifecycle processes, from design prototypes to manufacturing tools and final production parts. The Stratasys 3D printing ecosystem of solutions and expertise—advanced materials; software with voxel level control; precise, repeatable and reliable FDM and PolyJet 3D printers; application-based expert services; on-demand parts and industry-defining partnerships—works to ensure seamless integration into each customer’s evolving workflow. Fulfilling the real-world potential of additive, Stratasys delivers breakthrough industry-specific applications that accelerate business processes, optimize value chains and drive business performance improvements for thousands of future-ready leaders around the world.
Corporate Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota and Rehovot, Israel.
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Upper photo: Courtesy of Stratasys Ltd.
Source: Stratasys Ltd./AMazing
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