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“In the next 20 years, parts manufacturing in the aerospace will look completely different, and 3D printing will be the catalyst.” Says Joachim Zettler, CEO of APWorks.

SAP and APWorks, a subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, have their sights set on accelerating adoption and standardization of industrial 3D printing in Aerospace and Defense (A&D). The co-innovation using 3D printing services recently announced by SAP launches at the Farnborough International Airshow, Hampshire, England, July 11-17, 2016.

At the heart of this co-innovation between APWorks and SAP is a Bionics Network being established by the two brands to connect 3D printing experts and end users. The main aim being to strengthen the process behind 3D printing in the following ways:

  • Digitalizing and simplifying the part approval process
  • Screening and validating parts for 3D printing
  • Designing and redesigning of parts or systems for on-demand manufacturing and 3D printing
  • Accelerating and standardizing certification of 3D printed parts
  • Pioneering on-demand pricing for 3D printed versus traditionally manufactured parts (including tax and warehousing costs) using the SAP Product Lifecycle Costing solution
  • Tracking each stage of an order from production floor to customer door

Digital Transformation of the 3D Printing Process

It’s safe to say the concept of 3D printing has evolved past infancy. In becoming digitalised, it’s already affecting the way many industries think about manufacturing, particularly where aerospace is concerned.

Rapid technological increases that standardize processes are lowering 3D production costs, which is making additive manufacturing a viable alternative to traditional methods. The leading A&D innovators are reimagining business models, business processes, and job descriptions enabled by the transformation drivers.

“Digitally, the goal is to achieve near-zero unplanned downtime on commercial flights and support high production turnaround at lower cost,” said Torsten Welte, Global Head of Aerospace and Defense Industry, SAP. “What makes 3D printing most attractive in aerospace is the possibility to use new materials, prototype faster, on-demand tooling, higher utilization of machines and reduce stocking costs. Users are enabled to print the parts they need – as needed wherever and whenever they are needed.”

Future Tech: 3D Printing Capabilities

“The ability to 3D print all the possible components of an A350 aircraft could reduce the weight of it by nearly a ton,” claims Joachim Zettler, CEO of APWorks. 3D printing technology has growing influence on how APWorks designs, builds and maintains its products. Although the technology is still relatively new, SAP software helps Airbus Group meet quality control and production KPIs whilst managing the storage of spare parts. For example, Airbus Group and APWorks made headlines last month with the world’s first functioning 3D printed motorbike, the Light Rider - weighing in at just 77 pounds and capable of speeds of up to 50mph.

APWorks has also been involved in producing the world´s largest 3D printed aeroplane cabin component for the Airbus A350. Created with custom algorithms and the power of generative design, the “bionic partition” is a reimagined and optimised version of the dividing wall between the seating area and plane galley that holds the jumpseat for attendants.

Reinventing the Manufacturing Supply Chain

The shift has already begun from simply industrial prototyping and into manufacturing industries using metals, plastics and ceramics, which is reinventing the manufacturing supply chain. To address this, SAP announced at SAPPHIRE NOW that it will extend its supply chain solutions to include collaboration and certification cloud service for industrial 3D printing, based on SAP HANA® Cloud Platform and an on-demand 3D printing manufacturing network. These services aim to make manufacturing and logistical cost savings, reduce CO2 emissions and eliminate complex supply chain issues.

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