NBAA Convention News

Solid Concepts 3-D Printed Components Take Flight

 - October 20, 2013, 12:30 AM
Solid Concepts is making aerospace components, [including this FAA-approved air duct for a DC-10,] using the 3-D printing technique.

Solid Concepts has produced multiple 3-D printed components for aerospace applications that it is highlighting at NBAA 2013 (Booth No. N2011).

The company, based in Valencia, Calif., provides rapid prototyping, digital manufacturing, tooling and injection molding to the aerospace, automotive, industrial design and medical industries. It has more than two decades of experience in 3-D printing, or additive manufacturing technologies, producing parts from prototypes to production components by accurately “printing” layers of material until a 3-D form is created.

This year, Solid Concepts built an air duct using fused deposition modeling (FDM), an additive manufacturing technology, for installation on the Orbis DC-10 “Flying Eye Hospital.” The air duct received an FAA Form 8130 airworthiness approval tag.

The company performed production work for Area-I, an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and development company based in Kennesaw, Ga. Solid Concepts created control surfaces and a large fuel tank using selective laser sintering for Area-I’s prototype technology evaluation research aircraft (PTERA). The PTERA is a small, jet-powered aircraft designed as a low-risk, low-cost platform for testing new aerodynamic treatments, health management and control systems and other technologies. The NASA-sponsored UAS conducted its first series of flight tests in July 2012 at Heart of Georgia Regional Airport.

Solid Concepts also introduced metal 3-D printing to its custom manufacturing offerings with four direct metal laser sintering machines, capable of producing intricate and strong metal components, including turbine engine parts, exhaust system parts and fuel system components for aerospace applications.

The company offers high temperature laser sintering with PEEK (polyether ether ketone) material as well, allowing for aerospace applications requiring highly durable, lightweight and chemical- and heat-resistant components.

Solid Concepts was established in 1991 as a rapid prototyping service provider with a variety of stereolithography and CNC (computer numerical control) machining centers. It now has facilities in Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Austin (Texas) and Detroit in addition to Valencia, with more than 160 additive manufacturing, CNC machining, cast urethane, composite and injection molding and tooling machines.