Jabil recently conducted a survey that showed some impressive 3D Printing insight in the Aerospace and Defense (A&D) Industry. While we knew that A&D had adopted additive manufacturing prior to a lot of other industries, we were taken back by the impact it’s had on the industry since. For instance, while prototyping is still the most common 3D printing application for Aerospace and Defense, did you know that it’s also being used for…
- Repair and Maintenance
- Research and Development
- Production Parts
- Tooling, Jigs, and Fixtures
- Bridge Productions
Impressive, right? It begs us to ask a few questions like… What potential problems does additive manufacturing solve for Aerospace and Defense? What is the immediate relief/ impact that this industry can see? But more importantly, is the question of why? Why is A&D using 3D printing so heavily and why 3D printing instead of traditional manufacturing? In our extensive research we found that it basically comes down to:
With 3D Printing, A&D manufacturers can save significantly on materials. For instance, a manufacturer can substitute a premium material like aluminum with another less expensive material, like Onyx (or Flame Retardant Onyx) to reduce overhead expense in general. You still want that part in a tool steel? No problem! A Markforged Metal X 3D printer can deliver! If you choose to use a premium material, you’re still saving way more than you would traditionally since it can be accomplished with little to no waste/scrap.
This one is kind of a big deal. The smallest refinements can have an incredible impact on the efficiency of say, a flight. When 3D printing, more lightweight components allow staggering fuel savings over the lifespan of a project/initiative. As if that alone wasn’t enough to consider additive, think about what that means for the environment?
It’s a bird..its a plane…no really, it’s a plane—and its huge! 3D printing allows for part consolidation which means there is easier assembly, quicker assembly, and perhaps even less labor involved. Especially now that BigRep’s large-scale 3D printers are also an option, it’s that much easier to create what you need when the assembly is such a breeze.
This nearly always makes the list for any industry that incorporates an additive strategy. Once you start leveraging a 3D printer to its full capacity you’re able to move past design constraints that you would otherwise have with traditional manufacturing. Remember, even minor design improvements can have a staggering effect in Aerospace and Defense. Optimized geometry is a game-changer not just for A&D but for all industries.
Not too many years ago, simply having the option to use additive manufacturing in A&D was enough to give manufacturers a competitive advantage. Organizations discreetly qualified materials and practices and used these advances to compete and upstage competitors in the areas of weight, ability, capacity, decreased payload volume, etc. Today, since more robust materials are being developed beyond the realm of polymers and plastics—the opportunity is bigger than ever before. We’re already seeing more and more use cases for the industry. It’s no surprise then, that approximately 9 out of 10 Aerospace and Defense manufacturers anticipate doubling their 3D printing use. If you happen to be one of them, we can help! If you’re not in A&D but you’d like to explore how 3D Printing can have an impact on your business…we can also help!
Let’s reinvent manufacturing, together.