SAP Partners With Airbus Division For 3D-Printed Aircraft Parts

3D-printed aerospace components look to reduce weight and boost efficiency

SAP has partnered with Airbus Defence and Space subsidiary APWorks to develop industrial 3D printing technology for aircraft.

Announced at the annual Farnborough International Airshow, the marriage will see APWorks make use of SAP’s 3D printing services to operate a ‘bionics network’ that will hook up 3D printing experts and end users.

APWorks will then manufacture 3D printed components such as armrests and brackets, helping improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions through reduced component weight.

“The ability to 3D print all the possible components of an A350 aircraft could reduce the weight of it by nearly a ton,” said Joachim Zettler, CEO of APWorks.

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APWorks will also be able to meet orders on-demand, potentially speeding up the process of fitting spare parts to aircraft that would take longer to order in from elsewhere.

eurofighter eads military aircraft plane defence © Micha Klootwijk Shutterstock“On-demand 3D printing cloud service from SAP can help us to develop our vision for distributed, on-demand production of aerospace components and still meet the high quality standards necessary to make the aircraft fly,” explained Zettler.

In the last few years, industrial 3D printing has moved from the prototyping stage into manufacturing industries, using metal, plastics and ceramics to provide alternative options in the supply chain.

Research firm Gartner has said that while 3D printing technology is not yet ready to replace large-scale fabrication of equipment, it offers “considerable potential” for industries that operate on a massive scale, such as the oil and gas industry. Gartner predicts that by 2019, up to 10 percent of all oil and gas companies will be using 3D printers in some capacity.

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SAP’s 3D printing services are based on the SAP HANA cloud platform, and will serve to address the simplification of the part approval process, validating parts for using in the printing process, and finalising the on-demand budgets for manufacturing firms – comparing prices to traditionally-made components.

“Innovation in on-demand 3D printing is now revolutionizing traditional manufacturing,” said Torsten Welte, global head of Aerospace and Defense Industry, SAP.

“In the next few years 3D printing will be widely adopted across manufacturing industries. The aerospace and defense market will transform digitally to strive to achieve near-zero unplanned downtime on commercial flights as well as support high production turnaround at a lower cost. What makes 3D printing most attractive in aerospace is the removal of many costs associated with traditional manufacturing like stocking inventory. Users are enabled to print the parts they need, as needed.”

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