When we talk about additive manufacturing requirements for the Aerospace and Defense industry, we usually talk about things like reducing the number of parts and part weight while increasing process efficiencies. These are indeed important in this sector and there are a couple of 3D printing technologies that are successfully helping organizations meet these needs.
But, in addition to those requirements, there’s another critical need that cannot be addressed by most 3D printers – the ability to produce spare and end-use parts, custom tooling and prototypes in remote locations, such as field bases, functional divisions and plants, in space and even at sea. And, not only do you need to reduce the number of parts, part weight and increase the efficiency of your processes in remote locations, you need the ability to adapt material properties by each location.
Moreover, the entire 3D printing process, from file to usable part, must be accomplished in that remote location, without special facilities and additional equipment. Plus, the founding planks of many Aerospace and Defense organizations to be safe, without any toxic emissions, Green and environmentally friendly must be upheld.
Why can’t these requirements be met by today’s additive manufacturing systems?
Existing industrial-class additive manufacturing systems produce parts with insufficient material properties, such as low HDT, inadequate part strength in all axes, surface finish and part turnaround speed. They come with safety concerns such as harmful emissions and materials that can’t be recycled and messy production and post-processing methods that must be done in a lab - not to mention the sheer size of the printer itself that prohibits remote use.
What’s needed in 3D printers suitable for Aerospace and Defense?
- Variable materials and properties by location
How do we get there?
Rize’s Augmented Polymer Deposition (APD) 3D printing technology sets a new standard for versatility and control in additive manufacturing, with its ability to alter material properties at the voxel level. APD involves the simultaneous extrusion of our own compound of engineering- and medical-grade thermoplastic and jetting of special functional inks that change the properties of the thermoplastic voxel by voxel.
In our first 3D printer, Rize One, this process allows a release layer between the part and support, enabling our zero-post-processing capability, and detailed text and images, such as part numbers and instructions, 3D printed directly onto the parts. Moving forward, APD has the capability to produce injection-molded-quality parts. So, the idea of 3D printing thermo-sensors, parts with static dissipative materials, electrically conductive materials and parts with flame retardants in them and more is entirely possible with APD.
Further, Rize APD 3D printing technology uses a proprietary compound of engineering and medical grade thermoplastic with isotropic properties that is 2x stronger than ABSplus and watertight without post-processing. Because our technology eliminates expensive, messy and harmful post processing, you can safely and in an environmentally-friendly manner produce parts up to 100% faster than with existing 3D printers. Rize One is also a portable, desktop-size industrial-class system.
All of this, in combination with voxel-variable material capabilities, will enable you to adapt materials and applications by location, regardless of where and in what form that location might be.