Parts made on the machines will include everything from aircraft seating, panelling and ducting, as well as making cabin customisation much more affordable for its aerospace customers.
“In recent years, we’ve seen an ongoing demand for 3D-printed production parts among major aircraft OEMs,” comments Jānis Jātnieks, co-founder and CEO of AM Craft. “Although Covid-19 has shocked the industry in the last few months, we are seeing efforts to return to business by remodelling passenger planes for cargo shipments, as well as projects to increase customer safety measures and improve the inflight customer experience – for example, by providing mobile device charging stations and Wi-Fi infrastructures. In such cases, additive manufacturing is way ahead of slower and more costly traditional methods.
“One of the mainstay pillars that enables us to realise this business case into real-world applications is Stratasys’ highly repeatable FDM-based 3D-printing technology, in conjunction with aerospace-grade materials like ULTEM 9085 resin. Crucially, this gives us the capability to meet strict rules and regulations around certification that require the highest level of repeatability and traceability with every part manufactured.”.
ULTEM 9085 resin meets stringent flame, smoke and toxicity criteria and retains traceability required by the aerospace industry. The material is used by aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus, which has successfully standardised it for the production of thousands of flight parts for its A350 XWB aircraft. Certified to Airbus material specifications, ULTEM 9085 resin allows the company to produce strong yet lightweight aircraft interior parts at significantly reduced manufacturing cost.
AM Craft’s investment will complement an existing hardware line-up of four Stratasys Fortus F450mc 3D-printers. Collectively, the battery of eight FDM-based machines will provide the heartbeat of a dedicated new additive manufacturing facility in Riga that will focus specifically on fulfilling the application requirements of the company’s customer base of aircraft suppliers and airlines.
“As the Covid-19 pandemic caused the world to re-think supply chain strategies, AM Craft was already a step ahead,” says Yann Rageul, director manufacturing solutions, Stratasys. “The same flexibility offered by Stratasys FDM technology that allowed aerospace manufacturers to change gears and quickly produce personal protective equipment in response to supply chain shortages, is what can enable those same aerospace companies to advance their goals in cabin customisation. Both recovery from supply chain disruptions and cabin customisation require repeatable, cost-effective, low-volume manufacturing, and that’s exactly what AM Craft has invested in with Stratasys.”
AM Craft’s investment will see the company become one of the largest independent aerospace-focused 3D-printing service providers in EMEA. The business will operate as a sister company to Baltic3D, an established 3D-printing service provider that has worked closely with companies within the aerospace supply chain since 2017. Baltic3D has an ongoing collaborative partnership with certification company, Magnetic MRO, under whose ‘Production Organization Authorization’ it was granted authorisation to produce certifiable aerospace parts.
AM Craft’s Riga facility is expected to be fully operational in Q4 2020.