Altair > Case Studies > Revolutionizing Aerospace Industry with 3D Printing: A 63% Lighter Titanium Part

Revolutionizing Aerospace Industry with 3D Printing: A 63% Lighter Titanium Part

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 Revolutionizing Aerospace Industry with 3D Printing: A 63% Lighter Titanium Part - IoT ONE Case Study
Technology Category
  • Analytics & Modeling - Digital Twin / Simulation
  • Networks & Connectivity - Cellular
Applicable Industries
  • Aerospace
  • Life Sciences
Applicable Functions
  • Product Research & Development
Use Cases
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Virtual Prototyping & Product Testing
The Customer
About The Customer
The customer in this case study is GE Aviation, a world-leading provider of jet engines, components, and integrated systems for commercial and military aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings. They are known for their commitment to innovation and technology advancement in the aerospace industry. Recognizing the potential of 3D printing technology, they sought to leverage it to reduce the weight of their aerospace parts, thereby reducing fuel costs and the carbon footprint of their airplanes.
The Challenge
GE Aviation, a renowned name in the aerospace industry, recognized the potential of 3D printing technology in transforming the sector. The primary challenge was to reduce the weight of the aerospace parts, which would directly impact the fuel costs. A lighter airplane would mean lower fuel consumption, leading to cost savings and a smaller carbon footprint. However, achieving this weight reduction without compromising the strength and functionality of the parts was a significant challenge. Traditional manufacturing methods were not able to provide the desired weight reduction while maintaining the required stiffness and strength of the parts. The challenge was to find a solution that could create strong, light, and functional aerospace parts.
The Solution
Materialise, a leading provider of 3D printing software and services, offered a solution to this challenge. They used their design enhancement software, Materialise 3-matic, to identify areas of the aerospace part that could be replaced with cellular structures. These structures use less material but maintain the required stiffness. The team then decided on the size and position of the unit cells and redesigned the part to ensure its printability. The beam diameters were modified according to stresses and printability criteria. After several simulation iterations and necessary topological changes, the weight of the bracket was reduced by an impressive 63%. The final part was 3D printed in titanium at Materialise's metal competence center in Bremen, resulting in a part that was 63% lighter than the traditionally manufactured part.
Operational Impact
  • The use of Materialise's 3D printing technology and software resulted in a significant operational improvement for GE Aviation. The 3D printed parts were not only lighter but also stronger and more functional. The replacement of sacrificial supports with functional lightweight structures led to less post-processing, saving time and resources. The reduction in thermal stress due to less bulk material and larger support areas improved the durability and longevity of the parts. Moreover, the strong connection between Materialise 3-matic software and FEA analyses ensured that the metal part was strong and 3D printable. This innovative approach to manufacturing aerospace parts has set a new standard in the industry, demonstrating the potential of 3D printing technology in creating more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions.
Quantitative Benefit
  • The weight of the aerospace part was reduced by 63% compared to the traditionally manufactured part.
  • The total amount of material used was reduced by 63%, leading to cost savings in material procurement.
  • The thermal stress on the part was reduced due to less bulk material and larger support areas.

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