The aeronautics market is an essential element in our society, both in economic terms and in relation to the volume of goods and passengers carried. According to IATA (International Air Transport Association), airlines will come to carry 3.6 billion passengers in 2016, which means 800 million more than the 2.8 billion transported by airlines in 2011.
Air transport pays special attention to environmental issues, noise and climate change. Many companies and organizations are working to contribute to a ‘clean sky’. Research and technological development of new products and processes contributes to overcoming technological barriers and providing solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of aviation (b.p.: emissions, noise, energy consumption) for future generations.
Additive manufacturing processes (FA), considered in many applications as a new industrial revolution, are potential candidates to provide solutions to meet this challenge. In particular, additive manufacturing technologies of metal, such as’ Electron Beam Melting ‘(EBM),’ Sintering Laser Melting “(SLM) or ‘Laser Cladding’ (LC) materials are aroused greater interest among agents aviation market. Interest for the manufacture of components, if the OEM or Tier 1; or repair of components, if the ‘Maintenance and Repairing Overhaul’ (MRO). These manufacturing technologies provide many advantages compared to other conventional metal processing processes.
The SLM technology allows manufacture lattices or lattice both external skin without skin. These types of structures provide an enormous potential for a structural lightening but until now it was difficult to manufacture them by conventional processes. However, the possibilities offered by the SLM technology is being applied increasingly evident in sectors where weight reduction and increased resistance to weight ratio are an advantage way.
Particularly in the aeronautics sector, this technology is assuming a real revolution and are achieving significant reductions in weight and production costs.
Additive Manufacturing provides potential benefits for the aviation industry. These include:
- A sustainable use of raw materials as only the necessary material is used to obtain the form near the end (buy to fly ratio close to 1), it is possible to reuse the material between batches, while reduces the stock of materials and waste treatment operations.
- Reduce time and investment that are not required manufacturing tools.
- Provides flexibility in design changes, reducing additional risks.
- Reduces the existence of stores and components that can be manufactured on demand.
- Supply chain is simplified and therefore time responsiveness for commissioning is reduced.
- Reduces energy consumption and the emission of carbon dioxide by reducing the supply chain.
- Allows creation of unique designs with high added value only manufacturable using these technologies that reduce weight and / or add functionality to components. Complex shapes can be produced even with internal hollow channels.
- It allows the manufacture of components with special metal alloys in small series on demand.
- Allows repair and on-site inspection, especially for components with a high associated cost and time of delivery.