Recently we have seen a growing demand for additional 3D printed parts in the aerospace industry, and after the announcement that 3D systems and Honeywell International will begin working together, it would seem that the innovative industry may be moving one step closer to gaining those additional components.
The two companies will begin working together to test a new heat exchanger that would be manufactured using 3D printing. If this test proves to be a success, we will see even more 3D printed parts being used in commercial aircraft engines.
3D systems have been awarded the contract worth $1.3 million, they will be responsible for the design, build and test of an aircraft heat exchanger that will be manufactured
using 3D printers.
This partnership also comes with huge perks for the global technology leader Honeywell International. Honeywell now have direct access to 3D systems’ Direct Metal Printing (DMP) technology. They also have the added benefit of gaining access and support from the manufacturing and materials expertise of Penn State’s Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D).
Peter Meek director of Engineering Circle – registry of heat exchanger suppliers said; “The joint efforts of Honeywell International and 3D systems will be sure to revolutionise aircraft engine design and manufacture by using 3D printing technology. This collaboration could also introduce 3D printing to the multi billion dollar heat exchanger industry.”
Heat exchangers are currently used in commercial aircrafts to help improve fuel efficiency and reduce the risk of components in the fuel system freezing. It does this by taking heat from the engine’s oil system which can then be used to heat cold fuel.
Honeywell International are not the only industry giant to heavily invest in 3D printing in the aerospace industry. Other players like Lockheed Martin and GE aviation are also investing millions of dollars in additive manufacturing, which is more commonly known as 3D printing.
The Honeywell and 3D Systems project will be administered by America Makes and is due to launch mid year. The funding has been provided by Air Force Research Laboratory.
When explaining the decision John Wilczynski, Deputy Director of Technology for America Makes said, “Additive manufacturing offers design freedoms that are simply not possible when using traditional manufacturing processes.”
John continues; “The teaming by America Makes with industry leaders and researchers that possess substantial experience in heat exchangers and 3D printing will allow us to explore higher performing and lower-cost conformal parts. As a result, both the Air Force and the defense industry are poised to benefit greatly from this directed project.”
America Makes will also gain evaluation data from the development of the 3D printed heat exchangers which they can deliver to all their members. Members currently include all of the major defense and aerospace companies which could help encourage mainstream adoption of 3D Systems’ technology in the defense and aerospace industries. It is also likely that this data will infiltrate into Honeywell’s supply chain.