The largest additive manufactured passenger aircraft part for Qatar Airways

News from the 3D printing industry | 4 April 2019

Diehl Aviation delivered what is reportedly called the largest 3D printed part for passenger aircraft to a famous airline company. The 3D printed part is a curtain comfort header developed with Airbus. Made with a 3D printing technology called FDM, it will be installed on Airbus’350 XWB jet airliner and will first be implemented by Qatar Airways.

It took 12 months for them to move from development of the initial concept to EASA aircraft certification and delivery. The additive manufactured curtain comfort header will have the role of separating the different classes on-board.

The 3D printed part is made to fit the curtain rail. Twelve 3D printed parts are designed before being attached together to make an overall 1140 x 720 x 240 mm part. Additive manufacturing has consequently simplifies the production of this curtain comfort header. Normally, all modules are made from numerous layers of laminated fiberglass, which requires complex tools.

The 3D printed Curtain Comfort Header, the largest 3D printed part for a passenger aircraft. Photo via Diehl Aviation.

Customization is easier with additive manufacturing than traditional manufacturing methods. This enables better integration of further functions and presents huge benefit to improve passenger experience, thanks to retrofit solutions for example. Also, maintenance of the aircraft is simpler due to short execution delays and 3D parts that are can be easily removed, replaced, and repaired.

Diehl Aviation chose to design the Curtain Comfort Header for the A350 XWB aircraft exclusively with 3D printing because it appears as the most customizable and convenient solution.

Diehl Aviation is not the only company that recognizes the advantages of 3D printing solutions for manufacturing of passenger aircraft. For example, Airbus has already integrated over 1000 3D additive manufactured parts on the Airbus A350 XWB. Then, Finnish airline, Finnair, has also a partnership with Materialise, a 3D printing Belgian provider of manufactured 3D parts in order to save costs and improve its clients services. Finally, Air New Zealand, has also used 3D printed metal parts in its manufacturing process for aircraft in partnership with Zenith Tecnica.

More and more airlines companies are integrating 3D printing to not only improve their customer experience with customized parts but also to have shorter delays and reduce costs.