At a ceremony attended by Ernst Peter Fischer, German Ambassador to the UAE, Etihad Engineering (Chalet S15) unveiled on Sunday the Middle East’s first additive manufacturing facility with design and production approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency, making it the first airline MRO to receive such approval to design, produce, and certify 3D-printed cabin parts using powder-bed fusion technology, according to Etihad.
The laboratory, created in partnership with EOS and BigRep, is located at the Etihad Engineering facility adjacent to Abu Dhabi International Airport and has two approved industrial 3D printers: the EOS P 396; and BigRep’s One, among the world’s largest serial-built thermoplastic-extrusion 3D printers. The EOS machine, with a total build volume of 340 x 340 x 600 mm, enables tool-free manufacture of serial components, spare parts, functional prototypes, and models directly from CAD data, while the ONE can manufacture large parts, jigs and fixtures, and molds.
“The launch of the new facility is in line with Etihad Engineering’s position as a leading global player in aircraft engineering, as well as a pioneer in innovation and technology,” said Bernhard Randerath, the airline's v-p of design, engineering, and innovation.
The partnership will allow the division of the Etihad Aviation Group to make faster repairs, more lightweight designs, and customizable parts. Going forward, the 3D printing facility will “design, produce and certify additively manufactured parts for the aircraft cabin of the future,” according to the company.
Claiming title as the region’s largest commercial MRO provider, Etihad Engineering’s facilities include hangars covering some 66,000 sq m (710,000 sq ft), including one that can accommodate three Airbus A380s simultaneously.