Aviation maintenance costs are high due to many regulations that govern parts, and a host of approvals are required before parts can be considered airworthy. The niche market segment where easier 3D printing penetration is possible is the area of non-stress-bearing cabin plastic parts like cup holders, video monitor shrouds, plastic edge bumpers, escutcheon fairing inlays etc. To ensure that the parts, even though they are non-stress-bearing, are safe to be fitted to an airplane, they need to have a similar form, fit and function and need to go through burn tests and toxic gas release tests for compartment interior Standards.
Additionally, the platen size, materials costs and optimized design made possible by 3D printing techniques can lead to lighter parts than the original, just as durable and cost orders of magnitude less than the current injection moulded options. Although fuel is at historically low levels today (beginning of 2021) in terms of cost, aviation's carbon footprint directly linked to fuel burn becomes a matter of growing importance. Even a small reduction in weight of a single cabin component can significantly impact when compounded over our fleet of over 10s or 100s of aircraft. It can lead to reduced fuel emissions and associated costs. The opportunities and potential for lighter-weight parts are staggering. Still, not all non-stress-bearing cabin plastic parts can be profitably 3D printed. Over the past few years of our research, we have identified a catalogue of 35+ aircraft cabin plastic parts that tick all the checkboxes of commercial and regulatory viability.
Our highly experienced team has the most advanced knowledge and expertise in different aspects of aviation, including maintenance, technical support, production, and operational planning.
It works like photocopying: you 3D scan a part, convert that scanned geometry into a 3D printable file, 3D print using the fit for purpose method (SLS or FDM) and post-process the part by applying the surface finish or paint as per requirement.
Once the part is printed, as it has been produced as per the specification of an approved Part 21 Subpart G organization, an EASA Form 1 can be issued against the part which is required by airlines around the world as an acceptable documentation before a part can be fitted to an operational airplane.