New Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology Coming to the Aerospace Market
Matthew Greenwood posted on April 16, 2019 |

Advanced manufacturing (AM) is becoming increasingly important in the highly competitive aerospace market—and two leaders in the AM field, 3M and GF Machining Solutions, have developed a new technology that empowers manufacturers to implement AM in their workflows with faster rates and higher quality.

The companies jointly created the DMP Factory 500, a workflow-optimized metal 3D printer that can create large parts with higher quality, increased production rate and lower total cost of ownership for aerospace manufacturers. It has the potential to be the foundation of a fully scalable metal AM production of parts up to 500 millimeters cubed in size.

The modular solution allows workers to move a removable print module between printer and powder modules. Automated depowdering saves manual labor and reduces human exposure to hazardous metal powder materials. Because the system is modular, it can be scaled to fit production line requirements as well.

AM has, to date, been used mostly to mass produce small, complex metal parts. But it had been problematic to replicate this process for larger pieces: the larger the part, the harder it is to maintain high and consistent quality. GF Machining Solutions and 3M believe their modular product can overcome these difficulties.

25 fuel injection nozzles produced in 74 hours by the DMP Factory 500.
25 fuel injection nozzles produced in 74 hours by the DMP Factory 500.
Turbine rear vane produced in 48 hours.
Turbine rear vane produced in 48 hours.

The DMP Factory 500 features a vacuum chamber to attain the purest atmosphere possible to prevent oxidation of titanium parts, maintaining part quality. The chamber also allows for a high level of powder recyclability and low argon consumption, conserving raw materials and reducing costs. It can also be set up quickly.

The machine also features bidirectional material deposition that results in faster recoating and greater productivity over time—also helping keep costs down.

DMP monitoring gives the user an accurate assessment of part quality with non-destructive quality control testing and real-time process monitoring.

The machine’s integrated software gives engineers control over the entire spectrum of the AM workflow from design to post processing, accelerating the transition from 3D model to printed part.

DMP Factory 500 could transform manufacturing for the aerospace market.

Analysts predict that AM in aerospace will grow—by up to 23 per cent, according to the DMP Factory 500’s makers. The technology is appealing in the sector which is dominated by highly precise and complex manufactured parts that need to work seamlessly together while maintaining the highest standards of reliability and safety.  AM helps to optimize part consistency and reliability, while reducing the amount of waste in the manufacturing process. And with a relentless drive towards reduced weight and increased performance, AM can give aerospace manufacturers a significant advantage—and help reduce costs.

If the DMP Factory 500 can indeed overcome the challenges associated with large part production in AM, it will be in high demand in the booming aerospace industry.

Read more about 3D printing in the aerospace industry at 3D Printing the World’s Largest Single-Piece Rocket Engine.


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