Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, one of the world’s largest privately owned and independent aerospace and defence companies, is now using advanced 3D printing from Stratasys to manufacture, flight-ready parts for several of its military, civil and business aircraft, while producing specific ground-running equipment at a lower cost than aluminium alternatives.
Marshall already has several pieces of 3D-printed ductwork flying on heavily modified aircraft, as well as holders for safety knives and switches for aircraft interiors. 3D printing flight-approved parts on demand enables the company to produce lighter parts than traditional methods, significantly faster and at lower cost.
According to Chris Botting, Materials, Processes and Additive Manufacturing Engineer at Marshall ADG, the ability to create accurate, repeatable and reliable 3D printed parts using aerospace-approved materials are key factors in achieving the performance requirements necessary for use within aircraft.
The company is using the Stratasys Fortus 450mc FDM Printer and ULTEM 9085 resin, a tough, yet lightweight 3D printing material with high thermal and chemical resistance. This has been crucial to overcoming the stringent requirements of the aerospace industry, as they can now 3D print parts with the desired flame, smoke and toxicity properties for use on aircraft interiors.
Marshall is also utilising its Fortus 450mc 3D printer to build final parts on the ground. Marshall recently created a ducting adapter prototype for vital ground-running equipment—essential for providing fresh air to cool the aircraft’s avionics. 3D printing this particular part helped Marshall transition from typically costly aluminium processes.
The group is also using Stratasys 3D printers for a range of complex tooling applications, including drill jigs, masking templates, bonded fixtures and composite mould tooling. The team regularly produces customised, low-volume production tools within just 24 hours of an engineer’s request. In fact, they are driving use of 3D-printed thermoplastic tools to replace heavy metal tools, reducing the burden on the operator, and crucially, reducing cost and lead times on urgent operational tasks.
Botting foresees the use of Stratasys FDM additive manufacturing to increase across all elements of the business and to drive new applications.
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