Stelia Aerospace of Toulouse, France, unveiled a demonstrator prototype part for metallic self-reinforced fuselage panels, fabricated with stiffeners made by additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing). The one-meter-square panel was produced by a robotic tool through the deposit of aluminum wire merged by electric arc, known as Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing.
Currently, stiffeners are attached to fuselage panels with fixing screws or by welding. The new additive manufacturing process could simplify production of such parts to a one-step process, cutting required time, materials, weight, and costs. Stelia designs and manufactures fuselage sections for the entire Airbus family and Bombardier’s Global 7000; complex metallic and composite aerostructure parts for Boeing, Bombardier, Embraer and Northrop-Grumman; and wings for ATR.
The demonstrator is an outgrowth of a topological optimization research initiative Stelia launched in 2014 with engineering group CT Ingénierie aimed at creating 3D print demonstrators for “very large structural parts derived from new calculation methods,” said Cédric Gautier, CEO of Stelia Aerospace. The elementary parts include fittings and large-dimension frames and subassemblies.
Aluminum specialist Constellium and the engineering school Ecole Centrale de Nantes are also involved in the project, co-financed (50/50) by the partners and the French Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGAC).