In August 2019, Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing (KAM)(US), the hybrid manufacturing company signed the partnership with Elementum 3D (US), a developer of additive manufacturing materials. Under the partnership, Elementum 3D will supply KAM with advanced materials such as Aluminum 6061- RAM2 powder.
3D Printing: Future of Aerospace Component Manufacturing?
3D printing also known as additive manufacturing, is the process of producing three dimensional objects from a digital file using a printing machine. 3D printing is being adopted across various industries such as automotive, healthcare, consumer electronics, and aerospace & defense among others. The increasing adoption of 3D printing is attributed to its various advantages, which includes innovative designing, high adaptability levels, less time to market, and the ability to manufacture parts without expensive tooling. 3D printing in aerospace industry is a disruptive innovation and it is ready for smaller components to an entire aircraft manufacturing.
Manufacturers from Bugatti to Boeing to BMW have invested in additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, in which objects are created by layering plastic or metal as opposed to traditional subtractive manufacturing in which material is removed to create an object. Aside from automotive and aerospace, the technology is also showing up in footwear manufacturing, as Adidas prints athletic shoes, and medical device manufacturers like Jabil prints orthopedic implants.
In aerospace, for instance Boeing (US) has incorporated this technology to improve the manufacturing of its F/A-18 Super Hornet. Similarly, Airbus (Netherland) has also adopted this technology in its A350XWB series in pylon, the junction section between wings and engines.
In aerospace and defense industry, manufactures are using various material for 3D printing, such as polymers, ceramic composites, alloys of aluminum, steel and titanium objects can be printed with a minimum layer thickness. Moreover, Nickel-based alloys preferred in aerospace due to their tensile properties, damage tolerance, and corrosion/oxidation resistance. But from the aerospace industry point of view, more importance is towards Ti- and Ni-based alloy.
FIGURE 1 TITANIUM IS MOST PREFERRED MATERIAL IN 3D PRINTING MARKET
Source: MarketsandMarkets™ Analysis
Marketsandmarkets™ View Point
3D printing is gaining popularity in the aerospace and as well as automotive industry, owing to its ability to print lightweight parts for aircraft, UAVs, and spacecraft. Manufacturers of aircraft and their components use this technology to print complex parts. The technology is also proving beneficial for printing parts that are required in less volume.
Automation and usage of advanced & lightweight material, additive manufacturing, experienced skilled labour are some of the factors driving the 3D printing market for aerospace industry. The partnership between KAM and Elemetum 3D is expected to support their experience in key aviation and automotive projects at a lower cost. Moreover, it will also help them in targeting markets that rely on aluminium 6061 material that is majorly used across aerospace and automotive industries. This will allow them in capturing market share in aerospace and automotive 3D printing market of North America region.
FIGURE 2 TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENT IMPACTING CLIENT’S REVENUE SOURCE
Source: MarketsandMarkets™ Analysis
What Industry Experts Are Saying?
UK manufacturer Rolls-Royce is also integrating 3D printing into its production process. The Advance 3 engine, which will be available in 2025, will benefit from the use of 3D printing technology, such as flexibility of design, part consolidation, reduced weight, and increased part complexity. The finished product will have optimised fuel efficiency and low emissions.”
According to Airbus CTO Grazia Vittadini, 3D printing could reduce the overall weight of an aircraft by up to 55%. Airbus is working with Materialise (Belgium)to produce 3D printed plastic parts for its A350 XWB aircraft. Boeing, meanwhile, is working with GE on the Boeing 777X, which will feature six 3D printed parts inside its GE engines. Besides GE’s fuel nozzle, the engine will also use heat exchangers and separators, fuel mixers and temperature sensors. Boeing is also investing in metal 3D printing company Digital Alloy to get rapid access to low-cost, quality parts. Boeing uses over 60,000 3D printed parts in its products for the commercial, defense and space sectors.
As per the Chrish Botting, Materials, Processes and Additive Manufacturing Engineer at Marshall, -When manufacturing on complex engineering programmes, we need a method that can create an accurate, complex, functional and lightweight duct efficiently with minimal tooling costs – this is where 3D printing fits perfectly, “But we also need to ensure that the ducting work produced will be approved by the EASA for flight.
Key Insights on the 3D Printing Market
As per projections by MarketsandMarkets™, the 3D printing in aerospace is projected to reach USD 6.3 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 27.8 % between 2015 and 2025, while the 3D market in military is projected to reach USD 4.6 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 28.4% between 2018 and 2025. Automotive 3D printing market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 26.6% during the forecast period, from an estimated USD 482.27 million in 2015 to USD 1.567.36 million by 2020.
FIGURE 3 3D PRINTING MARKET IN AEROSPACE & DEFENSE FROM 2015 TO 2025, USD MILLION
Source: MarketsandMarkets™ Analysis
Growth of the aerospace 3D printing market is subject to technological advancements, regulatory framework, infrastructure availability. With the need to produce lightweight, complex parts, aerospace companies have taken advantage of 3D printing for cost savings and fast production. Beyond part production, 3D printing improves manufacturing capabilities for tools that are needed to create those parts. It can also facilitate light weighting efforts for aerospace structures, increasing fuel savings and reducing environmental impact.
Impact On its Competitor?
Some of the major competitors in the 3D printing market are Stratasys (US), 3D Systems Corporation (US), The ExOne (US), EOS GmbH (Germany), Arcam AB (Sweden), and Norsk Titanium AS (Norway), among others.
The strategic partnership between Keselowski and Elementum 3D can be a major threat to these companies. Keselowski is hybrid manufacturing company and Elementum 3D developer of additive manufacturing. And the collaboration will make KAM the first and only supplier in North America to use 6061 powder with an SLM 280 3D printer. Using the combination of SLM Solutions’ dual-laser system and Elementum 3D’s powder, KAM expects to break new boundaries in terms of print speeds for aluminum 6061.
3D printing apparently commands an edge over the traditional techniques, and its advantages are changing the markets for both civil, and defense and space sectors. The lead has been given by the US and Europe, and companies like Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, GE, Honeywell, Dassault, Safran, Rolls-Royce and Japanese Mitsubishi are increasingly employing 3D techniques.
3D printing holds the future in technology, and it would be appropriate for startups and emerging companies to take its advantage for their late start in the aerospace and defense sectors.
Keselowski (US) and Elementum 3D (US) will encourage other key players to enter in the 3D printing market. With their collaboration, they can expand and emerge as a strong alliance which can be a threat to other players. Key aerospace integrator, component manufacture companies, new entrants, as well as large established players are trying to gain a substantial share of the 3D printing market, as the potential is lucrative. The strategic partnership of KAM and Elementum 3D will force other players to work on improving their capability and strengthening their product portfolio and business strategy to stay ahead of the competition. This can be done through expansions or collaborations. Though expansions might take a long lead time, collaborations can be a quick and effective to target untapped market.
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