Airbus and Chinese University look at further applications for titanium Additive Manufacturing in commercial aviation

March 24, 2014

Airbus and China’s Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) have signed a cooperation agreement on exploring ways to further apply Additive Manufacturing technology in the commercial aviation sector. Under the agreement NPU, located in the Chinese city of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, will manufacture test specimens of titanium alloy parts for Airbus using its Laser Solid Forming technology.


Signing of the agreement between Airbus and NPU

“We are pleased to have been selected by Airbus, the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer, as a partner to carry out the pilot project to explore ways of applying 3D printing technology in commercial aviation,” stated NPU President Weng Zhiqian. “This project is a test for our 3D research capability and we are confident we will deliver satisfactory results on quality and on time that will establish a solid foundation for further cooperation in this field.”

Airbus stated that it is exploring the use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) to produce individual parts or even larger airframe structures for the company’s line of aircraft. The test specimens produced at NPU will be manufactured according to Airbus specifications and will be measured and assessed by Airbus. 


AM bracket produced by GE for its A350 XWB aircraft

In a separate project Airbus has already produced a variety of plastic and metal brackets for use on the A350 XWB aircraft. The material and structural properties of these parts have been tested and are now incorporated on the company’s fleet of developmental aircraft.

Airbus is also working toward spare part solutions with this technology, which it claims is ideal for producing out of production aircraft spare parts on demand. This month, the first AM component, a small plastic crew seat panel, flew on an Airbus A310 customer jetliner operated by Canada’s Air Transat. 

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