June 20, 2017 – by Benedict
3D printed aircraft components are regularly in the news, but a recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that additive manufacturing is being involuntarily grounded by a cautious Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). So is 3D printing in the aerospace industry ready for takeoff or not?
Even if you only spend a few minutes of the week browsing our website (http://www.3ders.org), you’re likely to have come across several articles concerning aerospace companies and their work with 3D printing. Large aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus are frequently seen working with additive manufacturing companies, while American multinational conglomerate General Electric is responsible for perhaps the most notable example of 3D printing in aerospace: a 3D printed fuel nozzle that helps power the GE9X jet engine.
But according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, additive manufacturing is being throttled by the FAA, America’s national regulator for civil aviation. The article, written by journalist Andy Pasztor, suggests that the regulator is being “slow” to approve the production of 3D printed aircraft components, as it seeks to ensure that parts made via additive manufacturing are as strong and reliable as their traditionally made counterparts.
Pasztor seems to have a point. After all, despite the abundance of AM activity in the aerospace industry, only a couple of companies have had their 3D printed parts approved for use by the FAA.