3D Printing Soars in the Aerospace Industry

3D Printing Soars in the Aerospace Industry

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has the potential to revolutionize both prototyping and manufacturing in the field of industrial casting. By fusing metal powders, manufacturers can rapidly create near-net castings from designs, reducing the costs of metal finishing and material removal. The aerospace industry is ground zero for such innovation, with players like GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric, taking the lead.

Powdered Metals Taking Flight

In the industrial casting industry, additive manufacturing is achieved through the use of lasers directed at a metal powder such as titanium-aluminide or cobalt-chrome powder – used in the turbine blades and fuel nozzles of GE Aviation’s GE9X engine, respectively – which fuses the powder into a solid layer. The sheer size of the blades for this particular engine makes traditional casting much more difficult than additive manufacturing. As improvements are made in this technology and the possible metal powder combinations expand, so too will the relative share of additive manufacturing in the overall industrial casting industry.

A Flight of Fancy?

Innovation in the aerospace industry is centered on lighter-weight and more fuel-efficient engines and aircraft. The use of additive manufacturing may help make these goals a reality by presenting the opportunity to utilize not only lighter-weight metal powder-based alloys, but also various other composites with the potential to be far stronger than traditional metals. GE Aviation has developed a means to produce lightweight, high strength components out of materials known as ceramic matrix composites. Given the potential benefits of additive manufacturing to the aerospace sector, it’s likely suppliers will increasingly use this production technology.

Want to Learn More?

Don’t worry, we have you covered! For additional information and analysis of US industry trends, see Industrial Castings: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. The report also includes numbers and analysis covering US Industrial Castings shipments and demand in nominal US dollars at the manufacturers’ level by product for 2006-2016 with projections to 2021. Shipments by product segment include:

  • ductile iron
  • other iron
  • steel investment
  • other steel
  • aluminum die
  • other die
  • non-die aluminum
  • non-die copper
  • other nonferrous castings such as cobalt, magnesium, and nickel.

While you’re there, check out some of our related reports, which include Fabricated Metal Products: United States, Manufacturing: United States,Metal Stampings: United States and Steel Mill Products: United States.

About the Author

Chris Dyer is a Market Research Analyst for Freedonia Focus Reports. He holds a Master of Arts in Security Studies, and his experience as an analyst covers multiple industries.