What is the contribution of 3D printing to China’s Aerospace?

 In recent years, China's aerospace industry has developed rapidly, and the application of additive manufacturing has continued to deepen. 2022 is destined to be an extraordinary year for China's aerospace development, and it is also a year for China's aerospace industry to go global. The rapid advancement of aerospace industry technology is also inseparable from the upgrading of manufacturing technology, and 3D printing technology has been better applied.
China Aerospace Corporation
China Aerospace Corporation

By 2020, China’s aerospace market will enter a period of explosive growth. This field urgently needs high-strength and lightweight materials, such as aluminum alloys, titanium alloys, and superalloys used in engines and other components.

 3D printing technology will continue to develop in the field of aerospace. The greater demand in the industry lies in metal 3D printing. Originally, the proportion of metal printing orders was less than 10%, but in 2020, the proportion of metal and non-metal reached 2:3.

3D printing aerospace metal parts

Significant advantages of additive manufacturing

  In the context of the country's major mission needs, the China Academy of Space Technology has higher and higher requirements for technology, and must urgently design the next generation of advanced structural forms, and additive manufacturing is the best technical means for designing complex structures!

The most obvious application advantages of three additive manufacturing technologies:

Integrated molding is more durable

  1. Realize structural integration and avoid welding requirements. On February 18, US Eastern Time, the US “Perseverance” Mars rover successfully landed on Mars, preparing for human exploration of Mars after 2030. The 11 3D printing metal parts on the rover will start the Mars walk with Perseverance. Six of these 3D printing heat exchangers—palm-shaped nickel alloy plates—protect critical components of the instrument from high temperatures. Through traditional manufacturing processes, the two parts of the machined heat exchanger need to be welded together, but the need for welding can be avoided by 3D printing, and the heat exchanger can be manufactured as a structurally integrated part.

3D printing heat exchanger interior

  1. Rapid prototype verification, shortening the research and development cycle of new aerospace equipment, and 3D printing technology greatly shorten the manufacturing process of high-performance metal parts, especially high-performance large structural parts. There is no need to develop molds used in the manufacturing process of parts, which will greatly shorten the product development and manufacturing cycle, and can directly generate parts of any shape from computer graphics data.

Higher material utilization

  1. Improve the utilization rate of materials, save expensive strategic materials, and reduce manufacturing costs. Most of the aerospace manufacturing fields are using expensive strategic materials, such as difficult-to-process metal materials such as titanium alloys and nickel-based superalloys. The utilization rate of materials in traditional manufacturing methods is very low, generally no more than 10%, or even only 2%-5%. 3D printing technology is a near-Additive manufacturing technology, which can be put into use with only a small amount of follow-up processing, and the utilization rate of materials has reached 60%, sometimes even more than 90%. This not only reduces manufacturing costs, but also saves raw materials, and proposes sustainable solutions.
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