Norsk Titanium to deliver FAA-approved, 3D-printed, structural components to Boeing

Norsk Titanium to deliver FAA-approved, 3D-printed, structural components to Boeing

Boeing 787 Dreamliner will be first commercial airplane to fly with certified additive-manufactured titanium parts in structural applications.

April 11, 2017
Eric Brothers
3D Printing/Additive IMTS Industry/Regulations

A Norsk Titanium Boeing 787 Dreamliner structural component showing the deposited, near-net-shape on top and the appearance after machining, below.

Cleveland, Ohio – Oslo, Norway-based additive manufacturer Norsk Titanium AS is using its proprietary, wire-based Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) process to produce 3D-printed, FAA-approved structural titanium components for Boeing’s 757 Dreamliner. Norsk Titanium, with its RPD additive manufacturing (AM) process, is the first supplier for Boeing’s high-deposition-rate material specification.

According to a Norsk Titanium announcement, Boeing designed the components and collaborated closely with the company throughout the development process. To certify the initial structural components on the Dreamliner, Boeing and Norsk Titanium undertook a rigorous testing program. FAA certification was completed in February 2017.

At the 2016 Farnborough Air Show, Norsk officials announced the company had received an order for titanium engineering test articles from Boeing, to be produced by Norsk’s RPD process. The goal for the manufacture, test, and analysis of the Ti-6Al-4V additively manufactured preforms was to demonstrate part-to-part repeatability and the operations processes necessary to enter long-term production of structural components for fleet aircraft. An image of similar preforms was shown in Aerospace Manufacturing and Design’s air show coverage in Aug/Sept 2016.

Norsk Titanium President & CEO Warren M. Boley, Jr. says, “We are proud to take this historical step with a great aerospace innovator like Boeing. The Norsk Titanium team will continue to expand the portfolio of components supplied to Boeing meeting stringent certification requirements. It is an honor to earn FAA approval for these structural parts.”

John Byrne, vice president, Airplane Materials and Structures, Supplier Management, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, adds, “We are always looking at the latest technologies to drive cost reduction, performance, and value to our customers, and Norsk Titanium’s RPD capability fits the bill in a new and creative way.”

A barrier to wider use of additive-manufactured parts for aircraft structural parts has been getting them FAA-certified, so reaching this benchmark demonstrates a pathway for manufacturers to certify AM parts.

The Dreamliner RPD components will be on display at the International Paris Airshow, Le Bourget, June 19-25, 2017 at Norsk Titanium’s booth in Hall 1, Space H299, along with a full-scale mock-up of the company’s patented MERKE IV Rapid Plasma Deposition machine that produced the structural parts.