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Boeing teams up with Swiss partner to standardize titanium 3D printing for aerospace parts

Posted Date 02/21/18

U.S. aerospace giant Boeing said Tuesday that it has signed a five-year agreement with Swiss leading technology and engineering group Oerlikon to speed up and standardize metal 3D printing process for aerospace components.

The agreement will support creation of standard metal-based or titanium additive manufacturing, popularly known as 3D printing, which is a controlled process in which material is joined or solidified to create a three-dimensional part.

"This agreement is an important step toward fully unlocking the value of powder bed titanium additive manufacturing for the aerospace industry," Leo Christodoulou, Boeing Chief Technologist, said in a statement.

He said the two companies will cooperate in standardizing 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.

Oerlikon chief executive Roland Fischer said that the partnership with Boeing will drive "faster adoption of additive manufacturing."

"Working together with Boeing will define the path in producing airworthy additive manufacturing components for serial manufacturing," he said.

Boeing and Oerlikon will gather data to establish qualification processes for additive manufacturing suppliers.

Boeing said it has conducted research into additive manufacturing since 1997 and has currently about 50,000 3D-printed parts flying on commercial, space and defense programs.

In 2017, Boeing became the first aerospace manufacturer to design and install a Federal Aviation Administration-qualified 3D-printed structural titanium part on a commercial airplane, the 787 Dreamliner.

Oerlikon is a leading global service provider in additive manufacturing, offering a full-range of integrated additive manufacturing services from metal powder production to component design, manufacturing, post-processing and quality inspection. The Swiss company hires 13,800 employees in 37 countries across the world.

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