Additive manufacturing (3D printing) is revolutionising the production process – the first printed aircraft, T.H.O.R. from the Airbus Group, can be seen at the ILA – BDLI member companies are revealing the current status of this advanced technology in Hall 2.Additive manufacturing has the potential to revolutionise entire industrial sectors. Leading manufacturers will be presenting the production equipment that makes this innovative technology possible in Hall 2 at the ILA Berlin Air Show 2016.
The combination of bionic (derived from nature) design and 3D printing enables aircraft parts and components to be manufactured faster, more economically and more flexibly, and without compromising the quality of the products. In the future it will be possible to produce spare parts on demand, quickly and even at the required location. Moreover, the weight reduction potential of this new technology offers aviation and the space industry possibilities for significantly reducing not only fuel consumption but also the amount of pollutants such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emission emitted during flight. In this way the industry is making another substantial contribution in its ambitious efforts to improve environmental protection.

The companies belonging to the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI e.V.) recently launched an initiative aimed at enhancing the role of additive technologies in the aerospace industry. The aim is to make use of the exchange of information and networking in the aerospace sector on order to generate synergies in the technologies of the future. The creation of this 3D printing platform is an ideal way of encouraging closer collaboration within the supply chain. In this way the aerospace industry is making an important contribution to strengthening Germany’s competitiveness as an industrial location.

This 2engine plane is mostly 3Dprinted (picture ILA, airbus)

With its exhibit entitled T.H.O.R. (Testing High-Tech Objectives in Reality) the Airbus Group is already providing impressive proof of what can be achieved with 3D printing. The twin-engined aircraft, measuring approximately 4×4 metres, that can be seen on the outdoor display area at the ILA is made almost entirely using printed components. T.H.O.R. successfully completed its maiden flight only a few weeks ago, and Airbus is planning to use it to test new aircraft components.

In particular, 3D printing technology is ideal for producing certain components for the aerospace industry, some prominent examples of which will be on display at the ILA:

• the Liebherr-Aerospace Lindenberg GmbH stand will feature an additively manufactured spoiler actuator for the A380
• Premium AEROTEC is presenting a 3D-printed elbow
• MTU Aero Engines is exhibiting geared turbofans incorporating 3D-printed components
• Concept Laser is giving visitors an opportunity to see the printing process in action
• SLM Solutions is providing close-up, live demonstrations of the technology used in its printers
• mountings with optimised surfaces and weight are on show on the 3D ICOM stand

The forward-looking subject of 3D printing and its many possible applications in the aerospace industry are also among the main topics of the program of conferences at the ILA:

Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace (AMA)
(1 June, 2 – 6 p.m., 2 June, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
Distinguished speakers will provide a wide-ranging overview of the current trends and challenges in additive manufacturing. For more details see

Workflow for Quality Assured 3D Printed Aerospace Components
(3 June, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
Presented by Hans van Toor, this interactive workshop deals with many questions concerning the 3D printing supply chain and the associated decision-making processes.

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