Airbus validates production of titanium components using multi-laser 3D printer

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Single titanium Airbus parts can now be processed using multiple lasers simultaneously in a Concept Laser M2 printer. (Image: Premium Aerotec)

Airbus has validated the production of titanium aerospace components using a multi-laser 3D printer from GE Additive.

The validation will enable single titanium components to be built at an increased rate in GE Additive’s Concept Laser M2 printer by using two lasers simultaneously.

This differs from a separate validation that took place in 2019, which enabled multiple components to be built in parallel within the printer, each being manufactured by a single laser.

The new validation is significant for components that occupy much of the available space in the machine, which previously, due to their dimension, were not validated to be built at a faster rate using multiple lasers in parallel.

The process-critical area is where the exposure zones of the lasers overlap, also known as the stitching zone. Highest precision in the calibration of the optical systems and sophisticated compensation of, for example, the influence of the process heat, is necessary to achieve the desired material properties.

‘With this advanced technology, we are now able to achieve a homogeneous, quasi-isotropic structure with excellent material properties in the overlap area, which does not show any discernible differences from the previous quality standard,’ said Thomas Bielefeld project manager of aerospace firm Premium Aerotec, who partnered with GE Additive to achieve the validation. ‘At the same time...we have succeeded in increasing productivity in component production by more than 30 per cent.’ 

Premium Aerotec will now use the newly validated system to produce components for the Airbus A320 family.

The two partners are already planning the next steps to significantly increase achievable build rates and in turn make additive manufacturing economically attractive for an expanded range of parts.

The Concept Laser M2 is a dual laser system with a build volume of 250 x 250 x 350mm3 and a 3D optic with variable spot diameter. The current generation of the system was developed to meet the exacting demands of highly regulated industries such as aerospace and medicine in terms of accuracy, uniformity, repeatability and safety.

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