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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:23 am 
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RLBH wrote:
ByronC wrote:
The biggest and most important difference between a ship and an airplane is what happens when the propulsion system breaks, and I think that's going to show up here.

Fortunately, there are industries other than aviation, which have regulatory regimes other than the aviation regulatory regime, and not all technologies need to be applicable to the aviation industry.

I agree with that, and I wouldn't want to subject anyone else to aerospace regulatory regimes. I was just pointing out why "we don it on ships" doesn't generalize to airplanes.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:54 pm 
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gtg947h wrote:
Now, as the industrial experience grows and more data accumulates, you'll see it start to be used more broadly. Eventually it will be used to make one-off parts. But that's going to be a long and drawn-out process.

There's also the issue that for most components 3D printing doesn't actually offer you very much that you can't get any other way - you get a cost saving by improving the buy-to-fly ratio but until you can actually improve the performance of the part that alone isn't enough to justify putting the part on the aircraft in most cases. It's only where you have extremely complex geometries which you can either print as a single part or fabricate as 20+ parts that it starts to justify itself. There's also another less obvious issue - the surface of a 3D printed part made using a powder-bed technique is usually not very smooth, certainly less smooth than a milled part or even an investment casting. That's because you've got a melt pool of the metal sitting in a big pile of powder - there is going to be an interface between the two, and the surface won't be perfectly smooth as a result. That gives you a big pile of stress-raisers in a part, meaning that a structural part won't necessarily be as strong as the FEA would have you believe.
I'm working on and with a number of projects to get 3D printed parts flying at the moment, and there are a number of routes to achieve what we want to do. One of the more promising ones is actually to 3D print a wax pattern then use a conventional investment casting process. That allows for enormously complex parts (the process is currently used for jewellery) at modest cost and importantly there is a route to certifying investment cast parts right now. We're also working on some powder bed parts, but mostly for things we really can't make any other way.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:27 pm 
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brovane wrote:
https://www.engadget.com/2017/04/11/boeing-faa-approved-3d-printed-metals-787/

From early 2016 to February 2017, Boeing worked with Norsk to be able to pass the Federal Aviation Administration's rigorous testing program for the components. The partners expect to get additional FAA approval for the material's properties and manufacturing process later this year. That will allow the Norwegian firm to make more 3D-printed titanium parts without having to get each of them approved, leading to even more savings per plane.

Thought I should follow up on this specifically. I'm pretty sure the article is not accurate on this. It's from the popular press, and that means I don't give lots of credit to them for accuracy. I'd guess that Boeing and Norsk put the process into place to get the parts certified on the airplane like any other parts, with the usual restrictions. It's now "here's a 3D printed part, certified under the usual rules for such parts". This is very different from "here's a printed part, and we need a Special Certification Exemption to put it on the plane", but not the same as "sure, print away". The idea that the FAA would just let them print parts and stick them on airplanes would require me to have fallen into an alternate universe, but I'm not sure a journalist could tell the difference.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:36 pm 
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ByronC wrote:
brovane wrote:
https://www.engadget.com/2017/04/11/boeing-faa-approved-3d-printed-metals-787/

From early 2016 to February 2017, Boeing worked with Norsk to be able to pass the Federal Aviation Administration's rigorous testing program for the components. The partners expect to get additional FAA approval for the material's properties and manufacturing process later this year. That will allow the Norwegian firm to make more 3D-printed titanium parts without having to get each of them approved, leading to even more savings per plane.

Thought I should follow up on this specifically. I'm pretty sure the article is not accurate on this. It's from the popular press, and that means I don't give lots of credit to them for accuracy. I'd guess that Boeing and Norsk put the process into place to get the parts certified on the airplane like any other parts, with the usual restrictions. It's now "here's a 3D printed part, certified under the usual rules for such parts". This is very different from "here's a printed part, and we need a Special Certification Exemption to put it on the plane", but not the same as "sure, print away". The idea that the FAA would just let them print parts and stick them on airplanes would require me to have fallen into an alternate universe, but I'm not sure a journalist could tell the difference.


What I got was the 3D printed process for this specific part is now certified so that each example of this specific part produced doesn't have to be separately approved by the FAA. So the company can more easily produce this specific part using the printing process without going through a full FAA certification for every part that comes off a printer. However this wouldn't apply if a different part was also printed. However this example would then point the way for a regulatory process to getting different types of 3D printed parts approved in the future for production. Which tells me that we could be looking at more examples of OEM production parts being printed in the future.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:29 am 
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brovane wrote:
Which tells me that we could be looking at more examples of OEM production parts being printed in the future.

We are, but not many - like I said, the process of getting OEM parts certified is painful and realistically only makes sense for a relatively small subset of parts at the moment.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:20 am 
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brovane wrote:
What I got was the 3D printed process for this specific part is now certified so that each example of this specific part produced doesn't have to be separately approved by the FAA. So the company can more easily produce this specific part using the printing process without going through a full FAA certification for every part that comes off a printer.

That's also a possibility, although unlikely. You're not going to hand over every part for the FAA to X-ray/HFEC. Nobody has time for that.

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However this wouldn't apply if a different part was also printed. However this example would then point the way for a regulatory process to getting different types of 3D printed parts approved in the future for production. Which tells me that we could be looking at more examples of OEM production parts being printed in the future.

Agreed. But as I've pointed out several times, this is very different from printing replacement parts that weren't originally printed. And printed parts have their own drawbacks.
Even printing of OEM parts in the field isn't terribly likely. If the FAA is unreasonable, you'll have to prove that the printing facility produces the same quality of parts via test. if they're reasonable, you'll have to be using an approved printer with approved feedstock, and neither of those approvals is likely to be trivial. The printer will have to be the same model as the original, or one that's been proved to produce the same results, and it will have to be carefully monitored for calibration. The cost of a couple of spares vs a big printer and the certification program is unlikely to make it economic soon.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:30 am 
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ByronC wrote:
That's also a possibility, although unlikely. You're not going to hand over every part for the FAA to X-ray/HFEC. Nobody has time for that.

100% radiography isn't all that expensive for simple parts - it's even possible to automate it. That's only realistic for an OEM part designed from the start for printing, however, since you'd need to include the radiography programme in the qualification tests.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:21 am 
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pdf27 wrote:
ByronC wrote:
That's also a possibility, although unlikely. You're not going to hand over every part for the FAA to X-ray/HFEC. Nobody has time for that.

100% radiography isn't all that expensive for simple parts - it's even possible to automate it. That's only realistic for an OEM part designed from the start for printing, however, since you'd need to include the radiography programme in the qualification tests.

It is if the parts are going to the FAA, or even if the FAA is reading the radiographs. I'm still not sure what the actual process involved is, but the article didn't provide enough information to be sure.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:59 am 
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100% radiography is standard practice for critical welds, which is pretty much what 3D printing is. I've never heard of a third party other than someone like Caparo looking at the outputs however. Standard practice is for the radiography to be done by an accredited test house, who then issue a certificate to say that it's free from flaws. The certificate is then held on file by the OEM - nowadays they could probably afford to keep the digital image of the X-ray as well.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:29 pm 
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ByronC wrote:
brovane wrote:
What I got was the 3D printed process for this specific part is now certified so that each example of this specific part produced doesn't have to be separately approved by the FAA. So the company can more easily produce this specific part using the printing process without going through a full FAA certification for every part that comes off a printer.

That's also a possibility, although unlikely. You're not going to hand over every part for the FAA to X-ray/HFEC. Nobody has time for that.

Quote:
However this wouldn't apply if a different part was also printed. However this example would then point the way for a regulatory process to getting different types of 3D printed parts approved in the future for production. Which tells me that we could be looking at more examples of OEM production parts being printed in the future.

Agreed. But as I've pointed out several times, this is very different from printing replacement parts that weren't originally printed. And printed parts have their own drawbacks.
Even printing of OEM parts in the field isn't terribly likely. If the FAA is unreasonable, you'll have to prove that the printing facility produces the same quality of parts via test. if they're reasonable, you'll have to be using an approved printer with approved feedstock, and neither of those approvals is likely to be trivial. The printer will have to be the same model as the original, or one that's been proved to produce the same results, and it will have to be carefully monitored for calibration. The cost of a couple of spares vs a big printer and the certification program is unlikely to make it economic soon.


Considering 3D printing of structual OEM aircraft parts is already happening then I don't see your time-frame of being 20+ years out as being vindicated with what is already happening in the industry.

I see this as being a repeat about your negativity around SpaceX F9 propulsive landings. Why you were being negative about SpaceX propulsive landings, they kept on landing F9 rockets proving the technology and re-launching previously flown boosters.

Which is why I said earlier, the technology is advancing past your negativity. While you are talking barriers and how it is decades out in the future, the advancement of the technology goes past you. The change is happening now and will just continue accelerating as the technology advances with printed parts.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:56 pm 
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brovane wrote:
Which is why I said earlier, the technology is advancing past your negativity. While you are talking barriers and how it is decades out in the future, the advancement of the technology goes past you. The change is happening now and will just continue accelerating as the technology advances with printed parts.


[shrug], while I do think Byron has a tendency to sometimes overstate his case. (I chalk that up to merely being his debate\discussion\argument style.)

In this particular case I think the two of you are merely talking pass each other. I took Byron's 20 years as the amount of time it would take for 3D printing to be ubiquitous\generally accepted practice in the aircraft industry and your statements are more about when 3D printing will be more than a very small corner case. In this particular case you both very well could be right in your predictions.

On the other hand what do I know. [shrug], I know very little about the inner working of the airline industry as I am programmer and not an engineer and have never even been close to the airline industry so feel free to take my opinion with a very large boulder of salt.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:05 pm 
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brovane wrote:
Considering 3D printing of structual OEM aircraft parts is already happening then I don't see your time-frame of being 20+ years out as being vindicated with what is already happening in the industry.

I see this as being a repeat about your negativity around SpaceX F9 propulsive landings. Why you were being negative about SpaceX propulsive landings, they kept on landing F9 rockets proving the technology and re-launching previously flown boosters.

Which is why I said earlier, the technology is advancing past your negativity. While you are talking barriers and how it is decades out in the future, the advancement of the technology goes past you. The change is happening now and will just continue accelerating as the technology advances with printed parts.

Ummm... I'm working on 3D printed parts for a Tier 1 aerospace supplier which already has some 3D printed parts in service. For what it's worth, I think Byron's timescale is a lot more realistic than yours.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:40 pm 
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From looking at the back and forth here, I think there is a bit a culture clash, and a difference in the pessimist/optimist viewpoints. There are individual parts that are 3d printed in use, but that is likely similar to when composites started to be used. It will take some time before 3d printing is treated as routine, with standard testing and approval methodology. Something like the common use of composite parts today.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:17 am 
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brovane wrote:
Considering 3D printing of structual OEM aircraft parts is already happening then I don't see your time-frame of being 20+ years out as being vindicated with what is already happening in the industry.

It's already happening where the unique advantages of 3D printing, mostly the fact that you can build pretty much arbitrary shapes, is useful. My 20 years number was the time until you can say "we have a broken part that was originally extruded/cast/whatever, go down to the 3D printer and run off another one" without having to get the use of the printed replacement certified for that specific part. And even that's optimistic in terms of practice, probably. Running an aerospace-certified production facility isn't going to be cheap, and it might make more sense to just keep having spares. If you don't believe me, listen to pdf27, who is actually working on 3D printed aerospace parts.

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I see this as being a repeat about your negativity around SpaceX F9 propulsive landings. Why you were being negative about SpaceX propulsive landings, they kept on landing F9 rockets proving the technology and re-launching previously flown boosters.

I thought and still think that the method SpaceX has chosen is weird. I don't recall ever saying they couldn't do it.

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Which is why I said earlier, the technology is advancing past your negativity. While you are talking barriers and how it is decades out in the future, the advancement of the technology goes past you. The change is happening now and will just continue accelerating as the technology advances with printed parts.

We are talking about aerospace. The regulatory side is as important as the technical side, particularly for commercial stuff. I spent two years there. If someone had asked to replace a part with a non-OEM 3D printed one in the wing of a Boeing airliner, it would have crossed either my desk or the desk of the guy across from me. And probably mine, as I tended to get the weird stuff. With all due respect, you do not have any experience with this.

KDahm wrote:
From looking at the back and forth here, I think there is a bit a culture clash, and a difference in the pessimist/optimist viewpoints. There are individual parts that are 3d printed in use, but that is likely similar to when composites started to be used. It will take some time before 3d printing is treated as routine, with standard testing and approval methodology. Something like the common use of composite parts today.

That's a good analogy. While I don't expect 3D printing to ever take over the OEM market like composites have (for volume production, it will never be cheaper than traditional techniques), it might well make significant inroads. We're in the equivalent of the 70s now, where you see a few small parts being made out of composites.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:23 pm 
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ByronC wrote:
That's a good analogy. While I don't expect 3D printing to ever take over the OEM market like composites have (for volume production, it will never be cheaper than traditional techniques), it might well make significant inroads. We're in the equivalent of the 70s now, where you see a few small parts being made out of composites.

That isn't entirely true. I could name you several dozen components off the top of my head that I work with regularly which would be significantly cheaper if manufactured by additive methods. Typically these are either made from expensive materials like Titanium or Inconel with a large amount of swarf generated by the production process, or require a complex series of fabrication steps. The latter is the reason for the small number of additively-manufactured parts currently flying, but the certification problems are very painful for OEMs at the moment so this is only worth doing for very high added value parts. As we get a handle on the certification issues that bar will come down, and you'll see a lot more AM parts coming into service.
It is also worth noting that AM and traditional methods are complementary, not competitive in many cases, although I can't really give you any examples without verging into areas I probably shouldn't talk about. Many of them should be obvious however - and the AM companies have got examples they're trying to sell all over their websites.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:36 pm 
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pdf27 wrote:
ByronC wrote:
That's a good analogy. While I don't expect 3D printing to ever take over the OEM market like composites have (for volume production, it will never be cheaper than traditional techniques), it might well make significant inroads. We're in the equivalent of the 70s now, where you see a few small parts being made out of composites.

That isn't entirely true. I could name you several dozen components off the top of my head that I work with regularly which would be significantly cheaper if manufactured by additive methods. Typically these are either made from expensive materials like Titanium or Inconel with a large amount of swarf generated by the production process, or require a complex series of fabrication steps. The latter is the reason for the small number of additively-manufactured parts currently flying, but the certification problems are very painful for OEMs at the moment so this is only worth doing for very high added value parts. As we get a handle on the certification issues that bar will come down, and you'll see a lot more AM parts coming into service.
It is also worth noting that AM and traditional methods are complementary, not competitive in many cases, although I can't really give you any examples without verging into areas I probably shouldn't talk about. Many of them should be obvious however - and the AM companies have got examples they're trying to sell all over their websites.

Good points. When I wrote that, I was thinking specifically of normal aircraft structural components, which are all aluminum and don't require lots and lots of exotic methods to make. We'll never be at the point where 3D printers do everything, because they're not good at things which are easy to make and that you want in mass. If you want cheap tableware, you'll stamp it. Structural steel will still be extruded or rolled.
That said, some AM stuff is really, really cool. But I don't think it's possible to appreciate how cool unless you're familiar with conventional manufacturing, and the limitations therein.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:03 pm 
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ByronC wrote:
When I wrote that, I was thinking specifically of normal aircraft structural components, which are all aluminum and don't require lots and lots of exotic methods to make.

Umm... they're aluminium and the shape they are because that's what we can produce with conventional methods economically and with a relatively low weight. If you look at the wing bones in a bird, for instance - which fulfil exactly the same structural requirements as an aircraft main wing spar and have had millions of years to evolve towards an optimal design - they're very different to a conventional wing spar. They are, however, very similar to the sort of geometry it is actually possible to print.
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Aluminium is also a mediocre structural material - but is much cheaper than the alternatives, particularly since it is so easy to form. With 3D printing the forming costs are very different, and materials like Titanium become much more feasible (although some like Magnesium are horrifically difficult). The real problem is that the way 3D printed parts are costed is so vastly different from what we're used to that I don't think it's really understood fully yet. Complexity is free in production but horribly expensive at the design stage (we can build parts so complex that even an ANSYS cluster falls over screaming with smoke coming out of it's ears if asked to model it), there is no cost reduction on increased volumes, material costs are pretty much irrelevant but build height is critical.

ByronC wrote:
We'll never be at the point where 3D printers do everything, because they're not good at things which are easy to make and that you want in mass. If you want cheap tableware, you'll stamp it. Structural steel will still be extruded or rolled.

Of course not. The problem is that we're still at the stage where we don't know what they will or won't do, and I suspect a lot of what we currently think is wrong. A lot depends on how the technology advances too - laser powder bed techniques are the dominant ones, but they really aren't very well suited to a lot of parts yet. As the technology develops this will change - but we don't know how or when.

ByronC wrote:
That said, some AM stuff is really, really cool. But I don't think it's possible to appreciate how cool unless you're familiar with conventional manufacturing, and the limitations therein.

I'm not so sure about that - there's an awful lot of hot air and hype about it, mostly from people who don't really understand conventional manufacturing. Those who do tend to jump on particular applications and lose interest in the rest.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:54 pm 
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pdf27 wrote:
ByronC wrote:
When I wrote that, I was thinking specifically of normal aircraft structural components, which are all aluminum and don't require lots and lots of exotic methods to make.

Umm... they're aluminium and the shape they are because that's what we can produce with conventional methods economically and with a relatively low weight. If you look at the wing bones in a bird, for instance - which fulfil exactly the same structural requirements as an aircraft main wing spar and have had millions of years to evolve towards an optimal design - they're very different to a conventional wing spar. They are, however, very similar to the sort of geometry it is actually possible to print.

Hadn't thought of that, and it's a really interesting idea. But I'm not sure if it's going to come to pass. You're competing with composites for those kind of roles. Also, inspecting it is going to be difficult to impossible.
But there's lots of parts where that kind of cleverness isn't going to help. Skins spring to mind.

Quote:
I'm not so sure about that - there's an awful lot of hot air and hype about it, mostly from people who don't really understand conventional manufacturing.

I think we've seen some of that in this thread. When I wrote the bit about not understanding, I was thinking of a part I got to hold when I toured SpaceX. It was, IIRC, an inconel grid of some sort for the Dragon's engine. (This part was a reject, I'm not sure why.) It was about an inch deep, and it showed light, but only if you looked through it straight on. I got goosebumps, because there's no way you could build that normally. Someone who didn't understand that, couldn't appreciate the part.

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Those who do tend to jump on particular applications and lose interest in the rest.

That's a pretty common problem everywhere.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:44 am 
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ByronC wrote:
But there's lots of parts where that kind of cleverness isn't going to help. Skins spring to mind.


What about printing the dies to make the skins. This would be particularly useful, if the material was recyclable. Print the die, press the parts, and toss the dies back into the printer to reuse.

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edgeplay_cgo wrote:
What about printing the dies to make the skins. This would be particularly useful, if the material was recyclable. Print the die, press the parts, and toss the dies back into the printer to reuse.

Can't be done - in powder machines it needs to be a particular grain size to work, and WAAM needs a rod feed. Realistically, you aren't likely to be pressing one-offs in any case - even printed press tooling is horribly expensive.

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