Airbus and Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency have been in talks concerning production of 3D Printed parts. Now, they have signed an agreement for the joint-development of spare parts for the RSAF (Republic of Singapore Air Force). As part of the deal, the Airbus Defence and Space division will design and certify spare parts for various aircrafts.
The two organisations signed the deal at the Farnborough Airshow, which often produces a lot of 3D printing buzz. Airbus has long been employing 3D printing for their aeronautic designs and prototyping. This project is an extension of that and also a major test for 3D printed aeronautic parts. Both the company and the DSTA see a clear potential in additive manufacturing capabilities.
“It is absolutely clear that digitalisation represents the future of military aircraft services and we are now at a point where we can begin to explore the most promising techniques on operational fleets. We greatly appreciate the innovative approach of DSTA in going on this journey with us.” said Head of Military Aircraft Services at Airbus Defence and Space, Stephan Miegel.
Additive Manufacturing and Aeronautics
Airbus will be testing the spare parts on Singapore’s new fleet of A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (A330-MRTT) aircraft. While the 3D printed parts are one aspect of the deal, the data and analytics package is another. The company will also be analysing the performance parameters of the aircraft using the SmartForce system, which they launched on the 23rd. The system collects data and makes it easier to plan maintenance and materials management.
Miegel also added: “Following this first agreement on 3D-printing, we have further agreed to collaborate on data analytics for predictive maintenance. The collaboration will add on to the development of Airbus’s new SmartForce suite of maintenance data analytics launched at Farnborough.”
The RSAF has bought up many A330 MRTT aircraft and the first one will arrive within the coming months. It’s a good sign that Airbus is currently courting defence contractors with additive manufacturing. While traditional manufacturing currently allows for better part creation, spare parts and single components are easier to produce with 3D printing. It’s also good to have to spare parts on demand, just as additive manufacturing allows. The companies will seek to leverage these advantages as best they can.
Featured image courtesy of DSTA and Airbus.