Opportunity Abounds: Additive in Aerospace
Aerospace industry could be the largest market for additive manufacturing.
The biggest challenge of all may be repeatability of the process.
While there are significant barriers to widespread adoption, the aerospace industry also presents some incredible opportunities for utilizing additive manufacturing, explained Bill Bihlman, industry veteran and President of Aerolytics LLC, during a recent chat with IMTSTV.
Aerolytics focuses on helping clients in three core areas: aerospace materials, processing of materials, and supply chain and global distribution. While his work with Aerolytics focuses on management consulting, Bihlman’s background in mechanical engineering and his history working for aircraft manufacturers have served him well.
Bihlman touched on the materials that lend themselves to additive manufacturing, including titanium and super alloys. He noted that these materials are great candidates for additive manufacturing in the aerospace industry because of their tolerance for high temperature and the need for less machining—ultimately leading to cost savings.
In the area of certification and standards, Bihlman noted that their needs to be a paradigm shift and a realization that previous areas, such as metal standards, are not directly comparable to additive manufacturing. While there are a number of challenges, it is of vital importance to the growth of the industry that standards are established, so there is a clear path to follow.
Beyond the difficulties with certification, Bihlman also highlighted several more technical barriers. The biggest challenge of all, he argued, is repeatability of the process. Because safety is paramount in the aerospace industry, any additive manufacturing process needs to be repeatable to be a viable option.