3D-printing in aviation - structural plastics and metals
3D-printing in aviation - structural plastics and metals

3D-printing in aviation - structural plastics and metals

In this article: the Boeing Chinook helicopter also has parts printed with an 3D printer.

Today we want to talk about 3D-printing when creating full-fledged operating prototypes and serial models of aircraft technology. Stratasys is no longer a monopolist in this field, other producers are catching up with it in terms of price-to-quality ratio.


Plastics called structural and superstructural are resistant to heat and cold, chemically active media and loads.

Polycarbonate filaments

Polycarbonate is more resistant to temperature effects than ABS, and is not soluble in acids. Destroyed by ultraviolet and oil products.

Mixture of ABS and PC

3D-printed training replica of the MQ-9 Unmanned Military Aircraft of the US Air Force.

Alloy PC and ABS are well-colored and polished, durable to -50 ° C.


Unmanned Airbus Thor, 4 meter, 21 kg.

Table of properties:

The abrasion resistant material is suitable for printing moving parts of mechanisms such as gears.

High-temperature superstructural plastics

The materials described above are printed on ordinary 3D printers. Superconstructive plastics require more wear-resistant and heat-resistant extruders and constant heating of the working chamber.


Wing from the material Roboze Carbon-PEEK. Produced on ARGO 500.

Parts from PEEK, polyetheretherketone, are operated at temperatures up to 250 degrees Celsius, briefly up to 300. The main disadvantage is the cost.


Airbus uses PEI components in its A350 XWB aircraft.

Polyetherimide is produced under the brand name Ultem by SABIC. According to the characteristics PEI is inferior to PEEK, but it wins a lot in price. Ultem brands 1010 and 9085 are the main raw materials of Stratasys with 3D-printing of mechanical parts of working prototypes. The mass of PEI parts is less than the mass of similar aluminum parts of mechanical strength. Operation - up to 217 Celsius on specifications, 213 - according to Stratasys tests.


The manufacturer of electric aircraft Eviation Aircraft uses 3D-printing for everything from prototyping to production.

Polyphenylsulfone also combines resistance to low and high temperatures, resistance to aggressive chemistry and strength. The material is certified for aerospace applications.


An item of a Boeing Chinook helicopter printed on an 3D printer from the PSU.

Less resistant than PC, but resistant to reagents and hydrolysis.

Keeps strength characteristics in boiling water. It does not conduct current, does not evaporate toxic substances, does not smell, does not support combustion. Does not lose properties to 175 degrees Celsius. The cost is lower than that of PPSU, about a third.


Blades of turbines of aircraft engines.

3D-printed products out of metal exceed the strength obtained by casting. 3D-printing with metal makes it possible to obtain complex metal parts in one copy much cheaper than using traditional methods.


GE experienced the aircraft engine Advanced Turboprop, which included a lot of printed parts.

The engine became 45 kilogram lighter, fuel efficiency increased by 20%, which gave a ten percent increase in power.

United Launch Alliance, Atlas V and Delta IV rocket launchers use ULTEM 9085 in missile designs.

Range of operation - from minus 60 to plus 107 degrees Celsius. The material is used in the ducts of the air system, which reduced the number of parts by almost ten times, from 140 to 16, and production costs decreased by 57%.

3D printing, Ultem 9085, Ultem 1010, fdm

Stratasys Direct Manufacturing and motor unit NASA Produce an 3D-printing support for antenna arrays of satellite systems. ULTEM 9085 is chosen for its strength, comparable with the strength of aluminum, at a much lower mass.

3D printing, Ultem 9085, Ultem 1010, fdm


As early as 2015, the specialists of this institute created a swirler for the front-end combustion chamber device of the perspective engine PD-14. Since then, more than two hundred swirlers have been printed.

VIAM produced a sample of a small-sized gas turbine engine (MGTD) designed for drones.

The engine was printed using SLM technology. As raw materials, powdered metallic materials were used. This technology speeds up production up to 30 times.

MGTS was tested on a test bench.

JSC "ODK-Klimov"

Develops a Prospective Helicopter (MPE) engine, while making it the maximum use of 3D-printing with metals and polymeric structural materials. Presentation of the demonstration sample is promised to 2021 year, the end of development - to 2025.

Assembly shop of JSC "ODK-Klimov", September 2016. Photo by bmpd.livejournal

It is expected that the engine mass will decrease by 15% and cost savings in operation by 30% compared to existing analogues.


Successfully tested 3D-printed samples of various engine parts, such as a supersonic nozzle, designed for speed in 1,3 Max, printed in just 36 hours.

Application of additive technologies provides greater accuracy and the ability to create solid elements with complex internal geometry, for example - turbine blades with internal cooling channels.

Photo of aviation21.ru


Equipment for printing engineering plastics can be divided into two groups, with print temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius and over 300, usually around 450.


Funmat and Funmat Pro print all ordinary plastics, from PLA and ABS to nylon and composites. Funmat HT and Funmat Pro HT are designed for refractory structural plastics such as PEEK, PPSU and Ultem.


The working chamber is a cube with a face in 260 mm, the thickness of the layer is from 50 μm, the nozzle diameter is 0,4 mm.

The temperature of the extruder of the younger model is up to 280 ° C, the tables are up to 150 ° C, the HT models, respectively - 450 and 160 ° C. Also in the HT version up to 90 degrees the whole volume of the camera is heated.


Funmat series PRO differ in the size of the camera: 450 x 450 x 600 mm.

Other characteristics are similar.


Sinterit Lisa

Prints from PA12 nylon and flexa Black material. The maximum print sizes for PA12 are 90x110x130 mm and 110x130x150 mm for flexa Black, respectively, the wall thickness of the part from 0,4 mm.

Sinterit PA12

Polyamide 12, one of the structural nylons, can withstand temperatures up to 173-180 degrees Celsius.


DWS produces stereolithographic 3D printers for printing photopolymers, including DWS XFAB 2500HD.


The printer's working chamber is a cylinder with a diameter of 180 mm. Prints layers from 10 microns.

The technology allows you to print samples with a complex internal structure with very high accuracy. This is the main advantage of SLA.


Additive technologies in the aviation industry play a significant role in the creation of prototypes and functional details, significantly reducing the cost of both.

Top 3D Shop select, sell and install equipment for 3D-printing and metrological 3D-scanning for any production tasks.

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