Slow progress for 3d printing outside the cabin


The spluttering progress of additive manufacturing in aerospace has advanced another layer with a production agreement between Etihad Airways Engineering (EAE) and Diehl Aerosystems.

Shortly after receiving its Part 21J production approval from EASA, EAE announced the pilot project to design, 3D print and install cover plates for IFE systems.

EAE and Diehl expect to collaborate on other products in the future.

“Our partnership with Diehl will help us commercialise this technology and make it available to our customers around the world,” said Jeff Wilkinson, chief executive of EAE.

Once touted as a groundbreaking technology, 3D printing has struggled to progress from the design and prototyping stage of aerospace production, so EAE’s move into commercial production – albeit initially for just one airline customer – should be exciting.

However, the manufacture of non-critical parts has already been explored by others: in 2013 BAE certified a 3D-printed window component for the BAE146 regional jet; and last year Air New Zealand announced plans to print tray tables for its business class cabins.