BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has designed and achieved European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Form 1 certification approval for an aircraft part for the BAe 146 regional jetliner using innovative new 3D printing (Additive Manufacture) technology.
“The part is a plastic window breather pipe used as a vent to stop cabin windows misting up. These pipes were originally made by injection moulding in plastic, but the tooling that had been used by the supplier was no longer available. New tooling would have cost £14,000 ($23,200) and involved several months lead-time. In addition, the lead-time to actually produce the parts would have been a further two months.
Philip Beard, structures support manager at BAE Systems Regional Aircraft contacted the central engineering team at the BAE Systems Military Air & Information business at Warton, Lancashire who are busily experimenting with and building knowledge on 3D printing technology.
“Within two weeks our Warton colleagues had produced examples of the part and once we had used these to gain certification, they introduced us to a commercial 3D printing supplier who was able to produce the required quantity for us,” said Beard. “Not only was there the significant time saving and the avoidance of the tooling cost, but the actual parts cost 60 percent less than the traditional method.”
Three hundred of the window vent pipes were made and these are now in stock at Regional Aircraft’s Weybridge spares warehouse and are being shipped to customers for use as they require on in-service aircraft.
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