A project undertaken by Travis who participated in the TD-Info Good Practice Study Group 2018 cohort. Its aim was to develop a process to assist engineers and logisticians to identify the most suitable parts for Additive Manufacturing (AM), specifically at/near the point of need. After researching existing AM selection processes, a general decision framework for eliminating parts based mainly on objective criteria was developed.
Tested on an AW101 search and rescue helicopter cabin’s Bill of Materials (BoM), the project found that, from approximately 1500 parts and assemblies, only 154 were feasible for AM, of which only 29 – less than 2% of the cabin’s BoM – were suitable for AM techniques.
The future of AM in aerospace applications relies upon safety critical certification. The study found that restricting AM to non-safety-critical parts overlooks components that may be suitable for 3-D printing without significant fatigue- or quality-testing or rigid process controls. Designing parts for AM is crucial to its success if AM is to reach its potential.