Introducing the First Self-Reinforced Fuselage Panel Made with 3D Printing
The Engineer posted on February 20, 2018 |
(Image courtesy of STELIA Aerospace.)
(Image courtesy of STELIA Aerospace.)
French aerostructure manufacturer STELIA Aerospace has revealed a demonstrator for metallic self-reinforced fuselage panels, with stiffeners directly manufactured on the surface. This feat of aerospace engineering was achieved through additive manufacturing.

According to the company, this new technology should, in the long term, eliminate the current added stiffeners, which are attached to the fuselage panels with fixing screws or welding.

This demonstrator, measuring 1 m2, was manufactured by a robotic tool, through the deposition of aluminum wire merged by electric arc, a process known as WAAM (Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing). Using this technology, STELIA hopes to introduce a new disruptive design for panel stiffeners, derived from fuselage topological optimization studies which have been carried out by STELIA Aerospace and French engineering consultancy CT Ingénierie over the past several years.

With support from the Dutch aluminum producer, Constellium and the French engineering school, Ecole Centrale de Nantes, STELIA Aerospace is currently studying additive manufacturing as a new approach to production. The project, which will take place over the next two and half years, is co-financed  by the DGAC (French Directorate General for Civil Aviation).

It is part of a research strategy launched by STELIA Aerospace in 2014, focusing on topological optimization studies of 3D print demonstrators for elementary parts (such as fittings), large dimension parts (frames) and large sub-assemblies.

“With this 3D additive manufacturing demonstrator, STELIA Aerospace aims to provide its customers with innovative designs on very large structural parts derived from topological optimizations,” said Cédric Gautier, CEO of STELIA Aerospace. “Through its R&T department, and thanks to its partners, STELIA Aerospace is therefore preparing the future of aeronautics, with a view to develop technologies that are always more innovative and will directly impact our core business, aerostructures.”

For more information, check out this feature on Additive Manufacturing in the Aerospace Industry.

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