The aerospace spare parts industry suffers various challenges. If a part is needed, the aircraft turns to the original equipment manufacturer. What happens if the original equipment manufacturer is out of business? With an acquisition, the knowledge of a product is often diminished. If the company is out of business, the product no longer exists. If a substitute is not found, the aircraft will have to be retired all because one simple part is needed. Does this problem seem familiar?
By using 3D printing, the aerospace industry can benefit from having a functional aircraft by replacing the unobtainable on-demand. Complex components can also be created in a way that traditional manufacturing could not produce cost efficiently. The number of parts can be reduced, reducing weight. This is an effort sought after in the aerospace industry as it increases fuel savings and reduces environmental impact. With a 3D printed component, fuel costs have shown to be reduced by up to 5%.
Parts that can benefit from 3D printing are jigs, fixtures, surrogates, mounting brackets, door handles, dashboards and prototypes. 3D printed fixtures, guides, templates and gauges have proven to have a 60-90% reduction in lead time and cost.