The use of 3D printing technology at Boeing could seem futuristic to some, featuring as it does levitating objects and spacecraft. But this is par for the course according to one Boeing director, “I’m not going to stick around for someone’s dream to come true, we just have to do it” says Leo Christodoulou.
Christodoulou is the Director of Structures and Materials, Enterprise Operations and Technology at Boeing (NYSE:BA). During a presentation at Defence IQ’s Additive Manufacturing for Aerospace, Defense and Space conference he gave insights into how 3D printing is increasingly used at the world’s largest aerospace company and the largest U.S. manufacturing exporter.
Yesterday, the Pentagon announced one such new contract awarded to Boeing, a $679 mln deal that includes five F/A-18E Super Hornet aircraft. The Super Hornet features at least 150 parts made using the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) method of metal 3D printing.
More than 50,000 AM parts are flying on Boeing aircraft, all bought their way onto the aircraft with a business case that justified putting them on the plane according to Christodoulou. The majority of these in-service parts are polymers, mostly nylon types, there also some composite type components.