Autodesk are no strangers to novel 3D printing concepts. Now, researcher Andreas Bastian produced a 3D design accustomed to print a plastic air travel seat frame. His team then coated it in ceramic material and heated till the plastic evaporated. This method of creating a mold allows them to produce brand new seat frames from a metal cast. Essentially, the method is a new, advanced mix of 3D printing with metal casting.
The project is a collaboration between Autodesk and Michigan Foundry. Autodesk used its Netfabb 3D design software to make a complex geometric model for any new aircraft passenger seat frame just like strong like a traditional seat, but vastly lighter.
Within the last year, Bastian has worked at Autodesk’s 27,000-square-foot technology center in the Bay Area. The rest of the ceramic mold ended up being utilized by Aristo Cast, a Michigan foundry. The company will be using it to fabricate a lighter magnesium seat frame.
Advantages of Merging Printing With Metal Casting
By using the resulting ceramic mold, Aristo Cast confirmed it can create up to 160 new magnesium plane seats every two days. While laser sintering, offers the opportunity to create objects with a large number of metals, it’s too slow. Metal casting, on the other hand, uses a large number of metals or composite materials. Furthermore, most forms of traditional 3D printing employ relatively smaller volume print beds.
The seat frames not only save on fuel, they can also help expand cost efficiency over the life-span of the average plane. If Airbus, for example, would replace all 615 seats on its A380 jets and switch to the new, lighter magnesium seat frames with a mere 100 planes which generally possess a 20-year lifespan, they would save $206 million (assuming fuel costs match with 2015 estimates).
The new method allows for a novel approach where the intricate latticework leads to a vastly lighter, yet strong seat frame. The eventual magnesium seat frame is also far lighter. It weighs 766 grams, 56% lighter compared to conventional 1,672-gram aluminum seats being used today. According to estimates, it might save an air travel greater than $200 million in fuel costs.