French aerospace giant, Airbus, has consistently remained atop the list of companies that are driving 3D printing innovation forward for quite some time now, and this week, they added to their list of accomplishments. The company has used hundreds of 3D printed parts on their planes, all which the company developed to meet industry standards. This work will only continue to expand as Airbus has committed to partnering with both Altair and Renishaw to fabricate 3D printed wings for their aircraft.  Last year, Airbus also released their concept design of Thor, a completely 3D printed airplane which can serve as either a manned-aircraft or a drone for missions and investigations that might be risky.

Adding to their 3D printing innovations, Airbus has now developed 2 more valuable, 3D printed components for some of their plane models. The first, a 3D printed air nozzle for the Airbus A330neo passenger plane’s cabin, has been created so that the company can expand the overhead storage compartment size. This nozzle and larger storage design will also be integrated on the Airbus A350 XWB model. These models will include other enhanced features, such as bigger seats, increased wifi bandwidth. better lighting and more personal space, all of which have been made possible by the space the 3D printed air nozzle has opened up.

One of Airbus’ 3D Printed Air Nozzles

The second innovation Airbus revealed is their new drilling templates, enhanced by 3D printing. These templates will be seen in their monstrous Airbus BelugaXL, a model created to transport large aircraft components, sometimes even fully completed sections of planes. The templates were developed to be compatible of the new Beluga design which is essentially an over-sized model of the Airbus A330.

The Airbus Beluga will feature the new 3D printed drilling templates

In order to develop more innovative parts and components with 3D printing, such as the air nozzle and drilling templates, Airbus is supplying their engineers and inventors with some of the most advanced 3D printing technology. According to Marc Carré, the Mock-Up integrator for Manufacturing at Airbus Commercial Aircraft,  “Operators come to me with a specific need and we discuss what’s possible, then I build a customized, computer-generated solution for manufacturing with the 3D printer.” Airbus has made it no secret that they will continue to drive 3D printing innovations in the aerospace industry forward, knowing that they haven’t even begun to unlock the greatest benefits the technology can reap. Their commitment to advancing the technology in order to better benefit their customers and airplanes will only tap into the great potential of 3D printing.