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Airbus Helicopters produces titanium latch shafts for aircraft doors via 3D printing

October 09, 2018
Source: ASM International

Airbus Helicopters, Germany, has officially begun production of latch shafts for the doors of the A350 passenger aircraft by metal additive manufacturing. According to the company, the AM components are cheaper to produce and weigh less than their counterparts made by conventional methods, enabling Airbus to continue offering more economical and environmentally friendly aircraft.


Airbus Helicopters manufactures the doors for all Airbus aircraft door latch shafts. The latch shafts are made of titanium on an EOS M 400-4 Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (LB-PBF) system in batches of twenty-eight per build. The resulting parts are reported to be 45% lighter and 25% cheaper to produce than traditional latch shafts; as each A350 has sixteen latch shafts, the result is a saving of just over 4 kg per aircraft.


Airbus Helicopters plans to deliver 2200 components a year once production is fully operational. Qualification is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2018, with serial production starting in early 2019; the first additively manufactured A350 components are expected to begin service in active aircraft in 2020.


Airbus Helicopters has begun preparations to produce an even larger group of A350 door components via additive manufacturing, and also expects to use the technology in the production of future helicopter components.


“This means that 3D printing should be taken into consideration right from the initial planning stages for new components,” says Luis Martin Diaz, Head of Industrial Service Centers at Airbus Helicopters. “Airbus will start preparations for the industrialization of 3D printed helicopter components this year.”

Subject Classifications

Industries and Applications | Aerospace and Defense

Materials Processing and Treatment | Additive Manufacturing

Metals and Alloys | Titanium

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