Case Study: 3D Printing Aviation Hardware Parts...In One Day

With deadlines approaching and an unexpected equipment failure, Eric was running out of options to keep his project on schedule. His team had identified an issue with the placement of a piece of equipment on a prototype aircraft. They were able to design a new mounting bracket that would resolve the issue and planned to 3D print the bracket and install it before beginning testing of the aircraft.

However, the team’s in-house 3D printer experienced a complete failure while trying to print the part and they realized that the complexity of the parts was beyond their level of experience with 3D printing, putting the planned testing in jeopardy. Eric reached out to us with a request that he knew was a long shot: would it be possible for us to 3D print the two mounting brackets he needed, and could we have them done by the next day?

We love a good challenge, so we immediately started working with Eric on a plan to produce the parts in time. As we talked about the intended purpose of the parts, Eric let us know that the parts needed to be high-strength for this application, which narrowed our choices to ABS or PETG plastic. We discussed these options and advised Eric that there was a chance of the parts warping if they were printed in ABS, so we agreed that PETG would be the best choice.

The pieces were critical to relocating a flawed placement of aviation hardware. You saved us two days of operational stand-down.

At this point we were ready to begin production of the parts. With each bracket being nearly 10” in size, we realized that we would need to use two machines to guarantee completion before the deadline. By installing large 0.8mm nozzles on both printers, we were able to reduce the expected printing time to under a day, enabling us to finish printing the parts in time. Because Eric’s group is located in the Austin area, they were able to send a team member to pick up the brackets as soon as the prints were complete.

“As minimal as the parts may have looked,” Eric said, “the pieces were critical to relocating a flawed placement of aviation hardware. You saved us two days of operational stand-down.”

Because we discussed the project and understood Eric’s key requirements, we were able to produce the parts in a way that optimized printing time while maintaining the level of quality and strength he needed. We were also able to start on the order immediately and employed multiple machines to expedite the printing process, allowing us to deliver the completed parts in less than a day.