Aerospace Case Studies

Great ideas soar even higher with 3D printing

Aerospace icons like NASA and Piper Aircraft employ some of the most exciting 3D printing applications in the world.

Read about a human-supporting rover bound for Mars; a compact, modular quadcopter that peeks over the horizon for safety; and the 3D printed parts that accelerate aerospace manufacturing tooling by 68%.

Customer

Description

Industry

Technology

ACS

Aerospace icons like NASA and Piper Aircraft employ some of the most exciting 3D printing applications in the world.

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Aerospace

FDM

Bell Helicopter

Bell Helicopter manufactures the heavy-lift “tilt-rotor” Osprey, the hybrid aircraft that combines features of both airplane and helicopter to accomplish what none of its forbears can do. It can lift off, hover, and land vertically yet it can cruise at high altitudes at jet speeds. 

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Aerospace

FDM

Connecticut Corsair

The Corsair was the only fighting WWII plane designed and built in Connecticut by one corporation, today’s United Technologies Corporation. In May 2005, it was declared the state aircraft by a unanimous vote of the state legislature, and today additive manufacturing technology is bringing it back to life. 

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Aerospace

FDM

DST Control

DST developed a strategy to produce its sensitive, custom parts in-house via DDM, while outsourcing the standard parts to be made via conventional processes. 

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Aerospace

FDM

Evektor

To keep up with the requirements of its customers and to increase efficiency, Evektor needed to re-evaluate its methods for prototype production. 

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Aerospace

FDM

Gas Turbine Research Establishment

“FDM technology provided the ideal solution because the supports and interior of hollow components can be easily dissolved in a water-based solution,” says Dr. Chandrasekhar. 

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Aerospace

FDM

Kelly Manufacturing

Achieving tight tolerances of 0.003 in. (0.0762 mm) FDM provides substantially better dimensional accuracy than the urethane casting process, and it eliminates the need for hand sanding. 

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Aerospace

FDM

Leptron

“We investigated various rapid prototyping technologies and discovered that the FDM process could provide components that met the mechanical requirements for all of our plastic fuselage components,” said John Oakley, Chief Executive Officer of Leptron. 

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Aerospace

FDM

NASA Mars Rover

For its 3D-printed parts, NASA uses ABS, PCABS and polycarbonate materials. FDM, patented by Stratasys, is the only 3D-printing method that supports production-grade thermoplastics, which are lightweight but durable enough for rugged end-use parts. 

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Aerospace

FDM

Piper Aircraft

Piper is using hydroforming to produce hundreds of aluminum structural components of the aircraft such as the inner frame, gussets, brackets, skins, etc. In the past, the company machined aluminum form tools for use in hydroforming machines. 

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Aerospace

FDM

Rocket Crafters

ABS thermoplastic's high butadiene content, when compounded with additives, offers the potential to create much higher thrust and specific impulse than traditional hybrid fuels like hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) and paraffin waxes. FDM Technology easily scales to any required level of production without additional skilled labor simply by the purchase of additional Fortus Systems. 

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Aerospace

FDM

SelectTech Geospatial

Inspired by an Air Force defense program, SelectTech Geospatial proved that an innovative company could make a UAS (unmanned aerial system) quickly and with limited resources. SelectTech’s test flight also marked the first time a 3D-printed UAS took off and landed on its own gear. 

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Aerospace

FDM

Trainer Development Flight (TDF)

Based at Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas, the Trainer Development Flight (TDF) is a facility that designs, develops, and manufactures trainers and training aids for the Air Force and all branches of the Department of Defense (DoD) as required. 

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Aerospace

FDM

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