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3D Printing

How Additive Manufacturing is shaking things up in MRO

It’s been around since the 1990s, but 3D printing (or Additive Manufacturing – AM for short) is finally going mainstream. So just what does this technology mean for MRO operations – and how can it benefit our customers?

3 million

number of 3D printers sold in 2018 according to the Gartner Institute

90%

faster than delivery for rapid tooling

What exactly can Additive Manufacturing do for you?

Everyone knows that AM can print simple parts, and this type of application is already in use throughout AFI KLM E&M – in some cases, using 3D printing for our rapid tooling needs, reducing the time required to acquire certain tools by up to 90%.

But at E&M, we’re looking to use this technology to bring even more specific benefits for the operators: using 3D printing to directly repair component parts like cabin ones, thereby reducing costs, logistical constraints and TATs during MRO operations.

Although there is a strict process to be done to ensure that 3D-printed parts can achieve the same certification status as traditionally-manufactured components, the technology holds exciting potential for MRO operations.

Using both metal and plastic, AM can already be used to repair worn components, bringing them back to near-net shape condition. This leads to the groundbreaking possibility of repairing items that currently have to be replaced – although these repairs have long been technically feasible, the amount of labor required meant they could never be cost-effective.

  • Lead times can be reduced from weeks to hours
  • The MRO gains independence, meaning TATs are no longer hindered by OEM logistical timeframes
  • AM has potential applications in direct component repair
  • Can vastly reduce the cost of individual parts and tooling items
  • Enables components to be repaired rather than replaced

“When it comes to using AM for tooling, the sky’s the limit! We can produce any part imaginable to meet every possible need, and this activity is already well under way at AFI KLM E&M.”

Frédéric Becel

Head of Design & Innovation for Aircraft Modifications

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James Kornberg

Innovation director AFI KLM E&M

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James Kornberg