Three of the biggest global players in industrial equipment manufacturing and aviation – Siemens AG, Strata Manufacturing PJSC and Etihad Airways – are working together to develop the first 3D printed aircraft interiors in the Middle East and North Africa.
The partnership aims to revolutionize the aerospace industry, leveraging additive manufacturing, known as 3D printing, to help airlines to improve their designs, including making complex parts on demand and manufacturing discontinued parts.
Under the partnership, a pilot project will develop 3D printing solutions for aircraft cabin interior products for Etihad, the UAE’s national carrier. These will be the first 3D-printed aviation parts designed, manufactured and certified in the UAE, Middle East and the entire Asian world. Siemens will leverage its global expertise in digitalization and 3D printing to consult on the selection of materials, testing and the preparation of processes. The design team of Etihad Airways Engineering will work to certify the parts, and Strata will manufacture the parts in its factory.
Leveraging the success of the pilot project, Siemens and Strata expect to investigate the development of a strategic three-year joint roadmap for the further industrialization of additive manufacturing in the UAE, the wider Middle East and North Africa. The roadmap will include training and the development of UAE citizens with the required skills for further deployment of 3D printing technology.
Etihad sees huge potential for 3D printing technology in aviation over conventional manufacturing methods, enabling faster on-demand production of complex parts and discontinued parts, and making design improvements by airlines very feasible.
“The biggest challenge for the use of flying 3D-printed parts in aviation is certification and we are ready to tackle it and make it a reality,” said Jeff Wilkinson, Etihad Airways Engineering CEO. “Etihad Airways Engineering will be using its expertise and major design certification approval (Design Organization Approval – Part 21J) to design and certify the first 3D-printed part for aircraft cabin in the UAE. We will be partnering with the certification authority and with Strata to make certified 3D printing for aviation in the UAE a reality,” he said.
Siemens has been an active user of additive manufacturing since 1989, and continues to promote the development and industrialization of the technology. The company is the only maker of industrial equipment worldwide to offer an end-to-end portfolio for 3D printing that combines automation and digitalization.
“We see great opportunities for 3D printing as a disruptive force in manufacturing, and expect it to play a key role in a globally competitive, increasingly digitalized industrial landscape in the Middle East,” said Assem Khalaili, Executive Vice President, Industry Customer Services, at Siemens Middle East. “This is highly relevant technology for the region’s development of an increasingly digitalized and diversified economic landscape, across a wide range of sectors. We are proud to be working with Strata and Etihad to advance 3D printing and strengthen local manufacturing here in the region.”
The Siemens portfolio in 3D printing includes computer-aided design (CAD) software, control, automation and drive systems for additive manufacturing machinery, and the comprehensive digital modeling of all processes. The technology has revolutionized the manufacture of components. Siemens uses it to manufacture parts for industrial gas turbines and rail vehicles, making the design, production and delivery of parts faster, enabling rapid prototyping, manufacture and repair.
Strata will explore 3D printing technology for a range of applications to aid its manufacturing processes in aerostructures in areas such as tooling, fixtures and consumables using metallic and non-metallic materials. Badr Al-Olama, CEO of Strata and head of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit Organising Committee, said 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize aerospace manufacturing.
“Strata is proud to facilitate the application of 3D printing technology in the aerospace field in the UAE for our national carrier Etihad, through our partnership with Siemens. Our goal is to deploy this technology on practical applications that will allow development of local knowledge building in various aspects of this technology that will lead to future innovations that can benefit the broader aerospace industry. The partnership echoes one of the key objectives of GMIS which is to harness the potential of collaboration in solving global problems and making manufacturing accessible to everyone everywhere,” said Al-Olama.
The announcement of the partnership comes as Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital city, prepares to host the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit from 27-30 March 2017. The international platform will bring together innovators across key sectors, including aerospace and industrial equipment, and from the public sector and civil society to adapt global manufacturing to the needs of the world’s future economy, citizens and environment. The Summit, co-hosted by UNIDO and the UAE Ministry of Economy, will bring together some of the biggest names in global manufacturing and policymaking, including Siemens and Etihad.