[Image: Etihad Airways]

Etihad Airways, one of the largest airlines in the United Arab Emirates, has dedicated itself to the development of 3D printing technology in the aerospace industry and the integration of 3D printed components into their airplanes. Last year, Etihad became the first company in the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) region to receive certification for a 3D printed interior aircraft component – a plastic monitor frame. Now, the company has partnered up with BigRep, a 3D printing company specializing in the large-scale 3D printers for industrial applications, in order to establish a road-map for developing new applications and solutions for additive manufacturing technology in the aerospace industry.

In an effort to better understand the full potential of 3D printing interior cabin components, both companies are dedicated to taking a new kind of approach to 3D printing in the aeronautical industry.

The BigRep ONE 3D Printer was created to make 3D printing for large-scale objects as easy as possible.

“Etihad Airways Engineering and BigRep share a vision to bring the 3D-printed cabin into production, together with our partners,” said Berhard Randerath, Vice President Engineering, Design & Innovation at Etihad Airways Engineering. “Our goal is to enable 3D-printing technologies for cabin parts – be it on new aircraft programs or for retrofit installations – to serve our airline customers with innovative and smart solutions.”

Etihad plans to use their experience from integrating the aforementioned 3D printed monitor frame into their aircraft to develop new ideas for components and parts that could be 3D printed. BigRep, a company based in Berlin, Germany, sees this partnership as an incredible opportunity for them to establish themselves as a global leader in additive manufacturing.

“We believe that Etihad Airways Engineering, with its expertise, is the perfect fit to cooperatively shape the industrialization of AM for the aviation industry,” said Stephan Beyer, CEO (interim) & CFO of BigRep GmbH. “We believe that we offer the best additive manufacturing solutions today with our BigRep equipment, but to unfold the full potential of our technology for the aerospace sector, we have to jointly certify new aviation materials and establish specific AM design and engineering guidelines in parallel.”

The BigRep Studio 3D Printer introduces a new dimension of large-scale 3D printing.

Although the company’s inception was just under 4 years ago, BigRep has already began to establish itself as a leader and driving force in large-scale 3D printing technology. Its large-format 3D printing systems, the BigRep ONE & BigRep STUDIO, are ideal from the auto and aeronautical industries. Partnerships with companies such as Etihad Airways have aided them in becoming an established firm in these industries, among others as well.

In addition to developing 3D printers, BigRep is also dedicated to the development of 3D printing materials. Both BigRep and Etihad Airways believe that there is a larger range of polymer materials for 3D printing that can be certified for use in aerospace are needed. According to Clare Scott’s article on 3DPrint.com, “That’s because there is a lack of variety in high-performance materials that are EASA- and FAA-certified. Both BigRep and Etihad Airways have agreed to work on the development and testing of new material grades in accordance with EASA and FAA criteria.”

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