Airbus Delivers Cutting Edge 3D Printed Plane To Qatar Airways

The aviation industry takes a giant leap as Airbus launches their most cutting-edge passenger plane to date. Officially launching in December, the aircraft manufacturing company will be delivering its first 3D-printed Airbus A350 XWB to reputed airline company Qatar Airways.

For this project, Airbus collaborated with U.S.-Israeli firm Stratasys to build the Airbus A350 XWB, which boasts 1,000 3D-printed parts made with state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques. Stratasys revealed this information yesterday and were lauded, together with Airbus, for this technological revolution.

Compared to other commercial passenger planes, the Airbus A350 XWB’s weight is lighter, creating a significant increase in the plane’s aerodynamics. Because of this, Airbus and Stratasys’ new masterpiece ensures safer and more fuel-efficient travel. The plane will be available in three sizes: the 800, 900, and 1,000 models, which will be partly manufactured out of a light-weight carbon fiber-reinforced polymer.

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“We are delighted that Stratasys additive manufacturing solutions are being adopted by Airbus for its flagship A350 XWB aircraft. Both companies share a vision of applying innovative technologies to design and manufacturing to create game-changing benefits,” Stratasys Executive Vice President of Business Development, Marketing & Vertical Solutions Dan Yalon said.

He added, “Our additive manufacturing solutions can produce complex parts on-demand, ensuring on time delivery while streamlining supply chains. Additive manufacturing also greatly improves the buy-to-fly ratio as significantly less material is wasted than with conventional manufacturing methods. Stratasys is looking forward to bringing these and other advantages to its collaboration with Airbus and to being part of Airbus’ Factory of the Future initiative.”

To fabricate each part on an FDM 3D printer, Stratasys used an ULTEM 9085 resin. This particular material fits the certified specifications required for an Airbus aircraft. First, the FDM 3D printer melts the resin and then it extrudes the melted resin layer by layer until an entire part is made. Not only does this production method produce lighter parts, they are also of high quality and excellent durability. Moreover, the parts fabricated by the FDM 3D printer are flame, smoke, and toxicity (FST) compliant.

Airbus and Stratasys have been making use of this technology since 2013. Because of this cutting edge method, Airbus was able to lower its production costs and reduce their manufacturing time, allowing them to meet their production deadlines.

Though 3D printing has been used in the past for military aircrafts, the Airbus A350 XWB is the first attempt to incorporate 3D printing in commercial passenger jets.

[Image via YouTube, Wikimedia Commons]