Premium AEROTEC reaches an agreement on collaboration for the industrialisation of printed aircraft components

Premium AEROTEC comes a significant step closer to introducing series production of 3D printed aircraft components. The company has agreed to work together with Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH to certify the processes needed for the manufacturing of printed aircraft components and to begin series production.

The two companies signed an appropriate contract just a few days ago. Other partners in this collaboration are the Institute of Laser and System Technologies at the University of Technology Hamburg-Harburg and the newly formed Bionic Production GmbH, which will now be qualified as a supplier for 3D structural components.

Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) involves 3D layering of metal powder, which can be used for all relevant metals - including titanium, aluminium and steel. The powder is applied in layers and a program-controlled laser beam fuses it along predetermined paths. In this way a component is built up layer by layer.

“3D printing is one of those technological trends that will have a decisive effect on the aviation industry in the future. That is why Premium AEROTEC is already working intensively on transferring this extremely promising process into industrial manufacturing. This partnership is an important milestone on our path to achieving this,” said Dr. Thomas Ehm, Chairman of the Board of Management at Premium AEROTEC, on signing the cooperation agreement. Premium AEROTEC introduced additive layer manufacturing in its Varel site as long ago as the summer of 2014, heralding the start of a new era in metallic aircraft construction. The company aims to manufacture the first series parts made using this method in Varel in 2016.

“Over the coming months the main focus will be on developing an efficient production process which will enable us to manufacture qualified structural aircraft components using 3D printing,” explains Gerd Weber, Head of Premium AEROTEC's Varel site. “In order to achieve this we need to manage the complete process chain and acquire a dependable supply chain.”

“At present, Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH is unique in its knowledge of the development of ALM constructions and the underlying processes. The process chain comprises all stages from devising the initial product ideas through to developing quality assured, functional components,” says Prof. Dr. Claus Emmelmann, CEO of Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH.

Premium AEROTEC generated revenues of around 1.9 billion euros in 2014. The company’s core business lies in the development and production of metal and carbon fibre composite aircraft structures. The company has manufacturing sites in Augsburg, Bremen, Nordenham and Varel in Germany, as well as in Braşov in Romania.