Boeing files patent for 3d printing of aircraft parts, printed 20,000 parts for its planes
In today’s society, filing patents for ideas and inventions has taken some extreme forms. As it is in many other industries, companies experimenting with 3D printing technology are increasingly resorting to filing patents for their services.
Aircraft manufacturing Boeing is the next in line to file a patent concerning 3D printing. In a patent application published this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This airplane industry has requested a patent for ‘Three Dimensional Printing of Parts’, a method and apparatus for requesting, authorizing and manufacturing or replacement of aircrafts parts.
“An apparatus comprising a parts library configured to store a plurality of part definition files a database configured to store entries identifying a printing of parts using the plurality of part definition files and a parts management system configured to receive a request for a part definition file in the parts library, identify the part definition file in the plurality of part definition files in the parts library, receive an indication of a printing of a part using the part definition file, and store an entry identifying the printing of the part using the part definition file in the database.”
Boeing is essentially requesting patent for manufacturing and replacement of aircraft parts. Boeing spokesperson Nathan Hulings explains, this specifically concerns about replacing already non-metal 3D printed parts with new ones that also needs to be 3D printed. “When production of 3D printed parts need replacing, we use 3D printed parts,” he explains. “We have approximately 300 different part numbers on 10 different aircraft production programs, which amounts to more than 20,000 non-metallic additive manufactured parts that are on vehicles that we have delivered to our customers”.
“The F/A-18 Super Hornet has approximately 150 parts in the forward fuselage area that have been produced through selective laser sintering,” stated Boeing spokesman Nathan Hulings.
As explained in the application, 3D printing is proving a time saving production method that enables them to cut back on inventory as well. “Receiving requested parts from the aircraft manufacturing may take an undesirable amount of time for client,” they write.
Boeing is currently using only 3D printing of non-metallic parts of their planes, the application provides cover for a wide range of 3D printable material as well, including polymers, plasters, metals and metal alloys.