German conglomerate Siemens has announced a partnership with Abu Dhabi’s Strata Manufacturing and Etihad Airways to develop 3D-printed parts for aircraft interiors.
The pilot project will see cabin interior parts for Etihad aircraft designed, manufactured and certified in the UAE through Siemen’s materials, testing and preparation expertise, Strata’s facilities in Al Ain and Etihad’s Engineering division.
Following this, Siemens and Strata expect to explore the potential for a three-year programme for 3D printing in the UAE and wider Middle East and North Africa including the training of Emiratis for the deployment of the technology.
“The biggest challenge for the use of flying 3D-printed parts in aviation is certification and we are ready to tackle it and make it a reality,” said Jeff Wilkinson, Etihad Airways Engineering CEO. “We will be partnering with the certification authority and with Strata to make certified 3D printing for aviation in the UAE a reality,” he said.
The use of 3D printing is expected to enable faster production of complex and discontinued parts and could see airlines able to make their own design improvements.
Strata CEO Badr Al-Olama said the company would explore the use of 3D printing technology to aid its manufacturing processes for plane parts in areas such as tooling, fixtures and consumables using metallic and non-metallic materials.
“Our goal is to deploy this technology on practical applications that will allow development of local knowledge building in various aspects of this technology that will lead to future innovations that can benefit the broader aerospace industry,” he said.
Strata currently manufactures eight different aircraft components, including for the Airbus A330, A380, A350-900 and Boeing 777 and 787 jets.
The, company which is expected to breakeven in 2018, said in July it had won two contracts from Airbus to manufacture parts for the A320 and A350.