Boeing, Chicago, USA, has signed a five-year collaboration agreement with Swiss technology group Oerlikon, Pfäffikon Schwyz, Switzerland, for the development of standard materials and processes for metal Additive Manufacturing. The research will initially focus on industrialising titanium powder bed fusion (PBF) Additive Manufacturing and ensuring parts made with this process meet the flight requirements of the US Federal Aviation Administration and US Department of Defence.
Boeing and Oerlikon will use the data collected from this collaboration to support the qualification of AM suppliers to produce metallic components using a variety of machines and materials. “This programme will drive the faster adoption of Additive Manufacturing in the rapidly growing aerospace, space and defence markets,” explained Dr Roland Fischer, CEO Oerlikon Group. “Working together with Boeing will define the path in producing airworthy AM components for serial manufacturing. We see collaboration as a key enabler to unlocking the value that AM can bring to aircraft platforms and look forward to partnering with Boeing.”
Boeing and Oerlikon stated that their collaboration will enable the companies to meet the current challenges to qualify materials and processes for aerospace and provide a route for the adoption of AM with a qualified supply chain that achieves quality and cost targets. Boeing has been researching and implementing AM in the aerospace industry since 1997 and reports that it currently has roughly 50,000 AM parts flying on commercial, space and defence programmes. Oerlikon is a key AM service provider, offering integrated AM services along the entire value chain, from metal powder production to component design, manufacturing, post-processing and quality inspection.
“This agreement is an important step toward fully unlocking the value of powder bed titanium Additive Manufacturing for the aerospace industry,” stated Leo Christodoulou, Boeing’s Chief Technologist. “Boeing and Oerlikon will work together to standardise Additive Manufacturing operations from powder management to finished product and thus enable the development of a wide range of safe, reliable and cost-effective structural titanium aerospace components.”