It’s clear why airlines and their manufacturers have increasingly come to embrace the benefits that 3D printing, otherwise known as additive manufacturing, can provide. Emirates has taken the latest step in announcing that it will lead the way in incorporating the 3D printing technique known as selective laser sintering (SLS) into the production of various parts for its jets’ cabins.
SLS carries the oft-touted benefits of 3D printing, including lighter products that maintain the durability and stability of traditionally manufactured parts. In addition, parts made using additive manufacturing techniques can be produced at a greater scale on-demand, reducing the storage costs necessary to house traditionally manufactured replacement parts. With its announcement on Thursday that it would be teaming with U.S.-based 3D Systems and European engineering and certification services provider UUDS, Emirates has solidified itself as a ‘pioneer’ in bringing SLS technology into the commercial aviation sphere.
The Dubai Air Show, held last week in the Gulf nation, saw several airlines and aircraft manufacturers agree to large-scale production contracts, as well as R&D and test projects which involve heavily numerous variations of additive manufacturing. Emirates was no exception, commissioning a $15.1 billion order for 40 Boeing Dreamliners to add to their fleet.
On those Dreamliners, SLS additive manufacturing methods would be used to produce the encasing, or shrouds, that contain the video monitors which are universal on luxury airliners. Those video monitor shrouds will incorporate 3D Systems’ thermoplastic, Duraform ProX FR1200, which is not only lighter weight and cheaper to produce, but more flame resistant than plastics produced from other additive manufacturing methods. Emirates’ representatives have made clear that this is only the beginning in terms of their use of 3D printing technology to produce increasing segments of their aircrafts, beginning with the cabins.
Emirates’ senior vice president Ahmed Safa added, “Over the last two years Emirates Engineering has been actively exploring 3D printing for aircraft cabin parts as it is a transformational technology that can be used to achieve an increase in efficiency and productivity.”