Additive Manufacturing Today

3D Printed Fuselage Panel

STELIA Aerospace presents in partnership with Constellium, Centrale Nantes, and CT Ingénierie, a demonstrator for metallic self-reinforced fuselage panels, with stiffeners directly manufactured on the surface, through additive manufacturing.

This new technology should, in the long term, eliminate the current added stiffeners, which are attached to the fuselage panels with fixing screws and sometimes welding.

This demonstrator, measuring 1 square meter, was manufactured by a robotic tool, through the deposition of aluminium wire merged by electric arc (WAAM – Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing). It presents a new disruptive design for panel stiffeners, derived from the fuselage topological optimisation studies which have been carried out by STELIA Aerospace and CT Ingénierie for several years.

This new large dimension 3D print technology allows the manufacturing of such concepts in the future, thus freeing production from complex constraints due to the assembly of stiffeners.

With support from Constellium and Ecole Centrale de Nantes, STELIA Aerospace is currently studying additive manufacturing, a disruptive technology aimed at a new approach of production, where material is added instead of being removed by machining.

The DEFACTO project represents an important investment, financed (50/50) by the DGAC (French Directorate General for Civil Aviation) and the partners involved.

It is part of a research strategy launched by STELIA Aerospace in 2014, about topological optimisation studies associated to 3D print demonstrators for elementary parts (such as fittings), large dimension parts (frames) and large sub-assemblies.

The benefits are new designs, the integration of functions, less ecological impact through the use of less material, weight gains and less recurring manufacturing costs.

Cédric Gautier, CEO of STELIA Aerospace, said: "with this 3D additive manufacturing demonstrator, STELIA Aerospace aims to provide its customers with innovative designs on very large structural parts derived from new calculation methods (topological optimisation). Through its R&T department, and thanks to its partners, STELIA Aerospace is therefore preparing the future of aeronautics, with a view to develop technologies that are always more innovative and will directly impact our core business, aerostructures."

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