Usability and Accuracy Drive Innovation in Aerospace Prototyping

The aerospace industry is embracing additive manufacturing with open arms – and with good reason. Rapid prototyping involving 3D printing is user-friendly, highly accurate, and capable of transforming the field by improving efficiencies and driving innovation.

Compared to traditional methods, rapid prototyping is far superior, which is why it’s had such a substantial impact on the industry. To begin, it doesn’t require any special tooling to produce a part, saving time and money that would typically be invested in tooling the production line and arranging an assembly process. In addition, if a 3D printed prototype reveals that the design requires reworking, a new approach can be programmed into the printer with ease. With traditional methods, the company would need to retool the line, which wastes valuable resources. 3D printing is also more accurate and eliminates the potential for errors that are associated with typical prototyping processes. Finally, rapid prototyping is simply more effective overall, allowing companies to accomplish more with less time, effort, money and resources.

With all of these benefits combined, it’s no wonder the industry has been so eager to adopt this technology. With that said, here are four key ways leading aerospace companies are using 3D prototyping to drive innovation and dominate the market:

1. Produce complex prototypes with ease.

With the unparalleled accuracy of the latest 3D printing technologies, companies can create complex models from extremely precise 3D CAD data without worrying about tooling and lead times.

2. Evaluate and approve designs.

By 3D printing a proposed concept, companies can easily test, evaluate, and approve or reject designs. This allows them to refine their ideas quickly, eliminate expensive mistakes, and drive efficiencies.

3. Test physical models.

With a 3D printed physical model, companies can test market potential, discuss a product’s risk and demonstrate the benefits of a concept in a tangible way that’s just not possible with a CAD drawing. In addition, companies can use a full-scale printed model to efficiently check angles, clearances and tolerances. If it’s determined that a part or design needs tweaking, the model can be quickly and cost-effectively adjusted again and again until it’s perfect.

4. Accelerate design cycles.

In a matter of hours, companies can prototype airplane parts to test the form, fit and function of different designs before going into production. This speeds up their time to market and reduces any wasted opportunities throughout the development process.



  • James Rawstron

    James Rawstron is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence North America, located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Rawstron has 20 years of marketing communications experience in the software, high tech, industrial, advanced manufacturing machinery and medical device markets. He has written numerous articles for B2B publications, including blogs for a variety of industries. Prior to joining Hexagon, Rawstron served as a web marketing professional at IBM and a Marketing Manager at Vector Software. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and European History from Union College of Schenectady, New York.

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