Siemens and Strata are 3D printing interior aircraft parts for Etihad

Polly Coleman
- Technology - Jan 23, 2017

Three of the world’s biggest players in industrial equipment manufacturing and aviation (Siemens AG, Strata Manufacturing PJSC and Etihad Airways) are planning to work together to develop the first 3D-printed parts for aircraft interiors in the Middle East and North Africa.

The partnership between the three companies is aiming to transform 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 that have been both designed, manufactured and certified in the UAE, Middle East and Asia. Siemens will leverage its worldwide 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 are expecting 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 Aviation Group sees a huge potential for 3D printing technology in aviation over conventional manufacturing methods. This will enable faster on-demand production of complex parts and discontinued parts, and make design improvements by airlines very feasible.

Jeff Wilkinson (Etihad Airways Engineering CEO) said: “Etihad Airways Engineering will be using its expertise and major design certification approval 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.”

Siemens has been an active user of additive manufacturing since 1989, and continues to promote the development and industrialization of the technology.

Siemens is the only maker of industrial equipment worldwide that offers an end-to-end portfolio for 3D printing that combines automation and digitalization.

Assem Khalaili (Executive Vice President, Industry Customer Services, at Siemens Middle East) said: “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. We are proud to be working with Strata and Etihad to advance 3D printing and strengthen local manufacturing here in the region.”

Strata will explore 3D printing technology for a range of applications to aid its manufacturing processes in aero structures 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 announcement of the partnership comes as Abu Dhabi prepares to host the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit. 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 will bring together some of the biggest names in global manufacturing and policymaking, including Siemens and Etihad.

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