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4th September 2016, Eden Prairie, MN

Boeing and Ford explore new approach to 3D printing

Stratasys Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator. © Stratasys.

Composites production is still constrained by labour-intensive processes and geometric limitations says Stratasys, and both Boeing and Ford are currently using the company’s latest advanced additive manufacturing system to explore the future production of low volume, lightweight parts.

The Stratasys Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator is designed to address the requirements of aerospace, automotive and other industries for large lightweight, thermoplastic parts with repeatable mechanical properties.

It features a new approach to fused deposition modelling (FDM) that increases throughput and repeatability. The system turns the traditional 3D printer concept on its side to realize an ‘infinite-build’ approach which prints on a vertical plane for practically unlimited part size in the build direction. An 8-axis motion system enables precise, directional material placement for strength, while also reducing dramatically the need for speed-hindering support strategies.

Stratasys Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator. © Stratasys.

“Additive manufacturing represents a great opportunity for Boeing and our customers, so we made a strategic decision more than a decade ago to work closely with Stratasys on this technology,” said Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works. “We are always looking for ways to reduce the cost and weight of aircraft structures, or reduce the time it takes to prototype and test new tools and products so we can provide them to customers in a more affordable and rapid manner. The Stratasys Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator enables products to be made at a much larger and potentially unlimited length, offering us a breakthrough tool to add to our robust additive manufacturing processes.”

Stratasys Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator. © Stratasys.

“3D printing holds the promise of changing automotive design and manufacturing because it opens up new ways to innovate and create efficiencies in production,” added Mike Whitens, director of vehicle enterprise sciences at Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “Our vision at Ford is to make high-speed, high-quality printing of automotive-grade parts a reality. We are excited about the future opportunities that the scalable and versatile Infinite-Build concept can unlock, and look forward to collaborating with Stratasys to help achieve our goals.”

Stratasys is also working closely with Siemens at making 3D printing a viable component of production-scale manufacturing. Stratasys developed the Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator integrating its core additive manufacturing technologies with industrial motion control hardware and design-to-3D printing software capabilities provided by Siemens.

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