Work Group Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace strives for international standards

Printed airplane parts, from left to right: turbine – part of a wing – topologically optimized holding bracket in a frame structure of an airplane
Printed airplane parts, from left to right: turbine – part of a wing – topologically optimized holding bracket in a frame structure of an airplane

For the latest issue of 3D fab+print magazine Gillian Kersley and Jolanda Heunen interviewed Mr Stefan Ritt, VP Global Marketing and Communications at SLM Solutions GmbH in Lübeck, Germany. Mr Ritt is also Chairman of the Work Group ‘Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace’.

After obtaining an engineering degree in technical physics, Mr Ritt’s professional career started with working for a traditional bolt making and prototype shop for a coffee dispenser and vending equipment factory. It was around the year 2000 that he got in contact with the 3D printing of metal parts from powder when he was working for a tooling company called HEK, a previous name of SLM.

HEK were involved in making vacuum casting chambers for silicon moulding and the sales of 3D plastic printers from other companies was used to good effect as a marketing tool for the vacuum casting chambers. “We approached companies that had a plastic 3D printer to offer them a vacuum casting machine,” Mr Ritt tells. “Early 3D plastic printing materials were very brittle, not UV stable and left a rough surface on the printed item.”

According to Mr Ritt: “In the professional 3D production environment, about 90% of the market consists of plastic printing machines and about 10% of metal printing machines.” And even though regarding parts for the Aerospace industry, one could assume these are all made of metal, this is not the case. Many interior parts are made of plastic, such as air ducts, housings and covers, which are nowadays 3D printed both for civil and military aircrafts.

“In the professional 3D production environment, about 90% of the market consists of plastic printing machines and about 10% of metal printing machines.”

When diving more into this matter it became clear to Mr Ritt that there was a lack of national as well as international standards applicable to 3D printing and 3D printed parts. This needed to be addressed, especially in respect of aerospace, and in January 2015 the Work Group Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace was formed by the DIN/ISO with Mr Ritt as Chairman.

Mr Ritt’s role as Chairman of the work group includes organising and structuring meetings to ensure decisions made are interpreted into written standards. In addition, he is responsible for making the work group’s efforts public as well as encouraging people to join, as it is part of the group’s mission to represent an equal spread of interest.

To receive the full article please get in contact with Jolanda Heunen.