3D Printing Titanium on Boeing 787

Norsk Titanium recently announced

Norsk Titanium to Deliver the World’s First FAA-Approved, 3D-Printed, Structural Titanium Components to Boeing

Unfortunately there aren’t many technical details available but this does seem to be related to reducing costs of the production costs of the 787 by around 2-3 million USD. The not so salient point here is that both companies have setup of a 3D printing pipeline that can go from concept to production in a year’s time. In Japan, that would be an impossible task. It also means that they can continue to redesign any titanium or metal part on the aircraft and leverage 3D printing to reduce weight or cost. I suspect this type of activity will percolate down to the automotive industry as metal 3D printing becomes more widely understood.

 

 

 

This is also more evidence to the superiority of FFF as a technological path for metal 3D printing because the major hurdle to overcome for scaled adoption of metal 3D printing is economic, not speed or precision. Filament will always be a significantly cheaper medium for metals than powder. This also supports the idea that 3D printed parts don’t have to be perfect from the printer to be useful.  An important point that I believe holds back other large companies from adopting 3D printing successfully. Il meglio è nemico del bene.