The future of airfreight is being printed in 3D
3D printing: the future is happening today!
Try to remember yourself 10 years ago. How would have you reacted if I told you that the predecessor of your home printer could print an aeroplane engine? Probably you would have thought I was crazy.
It looks like our friends from Rolls-Royce thought that it was a great idea, as they are planning to fly the biggest engine part made by 3D techniques!
Rolls-Royce and 3D technology to maximise resources and minimise waste
Rolls-Royce have used additive layer manufacturing (ALM) to construct a 1.5m-diameter titanium piece which is held inside a Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engine. Additive layer manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is a process by which acomponent is built up in discreet layers using a high energy source to melt or fuse metal powders.
This is the opposite of the conventional manufacturing system: instead of shaving off material, the process starts with nothing, and then layers of material are fused together to build the piece.
“ALM allows more efficient use of materials, which reduces both of the effects of mining and recycling of machining waste“
– Iain Todd, Professor of Metallurgy and Materials Processing at the University of Sheffield
The impressive perspectives for the 3D printing industry – An Airbus ambitious idea
We already know that 3D-printing has revolutionised the way we can make everyday objects from Lego pieces, to guitars, and from car bodies to artificial livers. But the scale of this change could be much, much bigger if the “printers” themselves scale up enough to incorporate structures as large as aeroplanes.
Bastian Schaefer is an cabin engineer with Airbus, and he has been working for the last years on a surprising and radical project: building an aircraft itself from the ground up with a 3D printer, that is as big as an aircraft hangar. This might sound a bit ambitious, taking into account that the biggest 3D printers today have the size of a dinning table. Nevertheless, we will need to have a close eye on the closer future, as Bastian estimated to launch the project around 2050.
Is the industry ready for these innovations?
It was following a two day meeting in Denmark, with the QCS UK sister offices, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands and Switzerland, that I stumbled upon the article in the British Airways Business Life magazine about a 3D printed aero-engine. It was with great interest and enthusiasm that I read on… would we be the first International Logistics company to move a 3D printed aeroplane part?
QCS UK are already professional in handling 3D technology, and are specialists in the packing and movement of 3D printers to China.