The laser additive manufacturing technology not only lowers the cost of titanium parts to only 5 percent of the original, it also reduces the weight of the components and enhances the strength of complicated parts.
As much as 40 percent of the weight can be reduced if the forged titanium parts on an American F-22 were made using the Chinese 3D printing technology, according to a a report on Chinese Web site, Guancha Zhe.
With funding from the government, especially from the military, the Chinese aviation laser technology team is making headways in making titanium parts for the country’s fifth generation of fighter jets, the J-20 and J-31, by lowering the cost and raising the jets’ thrust-weight ratio.
The Northwestern Polytechnical University of China is also making five meter-long titanium wing beams for the C919 passenger plane, which is scheduled to be put into commercial operation in 2016.
“As the aviation technology develops, the components are also getting lighter, more complicated, and need to have better mechanical properties,” said Huang Weidong, director of the university’s laboratory, to a local newspaper. “It is very hard to use traditional technologies to make such parts, but 3D printing could just meet such demands.”
- China commercializes 3D printing in aviation (zdnet.com)
- Caixin Online: 3D printing in China: A world of possibility (marketwatch.com)
- Successful first flight of second prototype of J20 (chinadailymail.com)