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3 Ways 3D Printing Can Save You Time and Money

3 Ways 3D Printing Can Save You Time and Money

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has rapidly become a big contributor to the aviation industry. In fact, the global market for 3D printing in the aerospace industry is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 20.24% between 2018 and 2023. While aviation initially used additive manufacturing mostly for prototyping, its use has now expanded to nearly every aspect of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations.

Here are three ways 3D printing can save you time and money:

Increased Parts Availability. Waiting for parts, whether they’re engine components or a full interior dashboard, can certainly increase aircraft-on-ground (AOG) time and decrease mission and business readiness. With 3D printing, you can print parts on demand, potentially in the same facility where you are repairing the aircraft. Even specialty or customized one-off components, which would be expensive to produce using traditional manufacturing processes, can now be manufactured just as inexpensively as a large production run of standard printed parts.

Minimized Weight. Weight can have a significant effect on an aircraft’s fuel usage, carbon emissions, speed limitations and flight safety. The unique way additive manufacturing works can allow for the creation of much more lightweight parts with hollow or honeycombed structures—parts that are challenging or impossible to create using typical manufacturing procedures. The printed parts reduce weight on an aircraft without compromising strength or durability. This results in reduced fuel use and emissions, and more weight capacity for passengers, cargo or payload.

Waste Reduction. By reducing the need to warehouse, ship and track spare parts, additive manufacturing can save you space, time and budget. For organizations that machine or modify parts themselves, additive manufacturing means very minimal waste from the manufacturing itself because the process involves adding material instead of removing it. In fact, some scrap materials, such as plastic, can even be recycled and reused in future printing projects, which helps save money. Additive manufacturing also eliminates setup and tooling costs, which means you only pay production costs at the time the parts are manufactured.

Clearly, the benefits of additive manufacturing go well beyond manufacturing and design processes to encompass budgeting and overall operational efficiency. It’s a technology that is only going to become more significant as aerospace engineers discover new ways to put it to use. That is likely why reports predict such rapid growth in additive manufacturing, and why you might even want to think about making room for a 3D printer in your shop.

Kathryn Kearney
Content Marketing Specialist
Katie Kearney is the global content marketing specialist for Honeywell Aerospace.

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