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For one, the processes may develop into potential sources for tooling and dies. Direct metal printing may be- come another viable option for rapid prototyping and small run compo- nents, reducing lead times and further


streamlining the supply chain. Manufacturing experts will contin- ue to disagree on the potential impact of additive manufacturing and direct metal printing—some call it the next revolutionary technology, some dismiss


DIRECT METAL PRINTING TAKES FLIGHT When EADS, the European


Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (since renamed Airbus Group), Leiden, Netherlands, was investigating ways to improve manufacturing components in the Airbus A320 jet airliner, the DMLS process seemed an especially appropriate process to manufac- ture nacelle hinge brackets for the jet aircraft because the process allowed for design freedoms that could meet the industry’s empha- sis on weight reduction. EADS emphasized quality,


costs and environmental effects when choosing a manufacturing process and creating an optimized design. EADS conducted tests that compared DMLS-produced titanium brackets with steel ver- sions by measuring energy con- sumption over the entire lifecycle. DMLS proved a good fi t because its operational performance is an estimated 100 times more impor- tant than the part’s manufacturing phase. The optimized design decreased en- ergy consumption over the whole life cycle of the brackets by almost 40%, despite the DMLS manufacturing process requiring signifi cantly more energy. Next, the compo- nents’ operational phases were evaluated. Energy consumption decreases slightly when moving from steel to the EOS platform but the real advantage of DMLS is


DMLS reduced part weight and improved fuel effi ciency in the Airbus A320 jet.


that the process decreased raw material consumption by as much as 75%. “I see tremendous potential in


DMLS technology for future aircraft generations, when it comes to both development and manufacturing,” said Jon Meyer, EADS research team leader. Optimized design of the engine


cowling hinge allowed EADS to demonstrate the potential to re- duce weight per plane by approxi- mately 22 lbs. (10kg). The weight savings could re-


duce the CO2 emissions contrib- uted by the door hinges by almost 40% over the life of the part. Consumption of raw


materials was reduced by 25%.


“DMLS has demon- Conversion from investment casting (left) reduced CO2 emissions.


strated a number of benefi ts, as it can sup- port the optimization of design and enable sub- sequent manufacture in low volume production,” said Meyer. “In general, the joint study revealed that DMLS has the po- tential to build light, sus- tainable parts with due regard for the company’s CO2 footprint.” ■


it as a gimmick—but these processes appear en route to becoming feasible options for certain components. “Additive manufacturing used to be used primarily for prototyping, whether it be functional prototyp-


May/Jun 2015 | METAL CASTING DESIGN & PURCHASING | 31


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