China aims to become a leading in commercializing 3D printer technology by using laser additive manufacturing for titanium parts for aircraft.
The cost of 3D printing titanium aircraft parts will be only around 5% of traditional methods, as the part will not need to be extensively machined which takes a lot of time, energy and resources. The weight of the part will also be significantly less with the benefit of greater strength for complicated parts.
According to a report on Chinese website, Guancha Zhe, it is estimated that as much as 40% of the weight of titanium parts on an F-22 could be saved if they were 3D printed using Chinese methods.
The Chinese military is using this laser manufacturing technology to develop titanium parts for its next generation fighter jets, the J-20 and J-31. It’s not only military planes that will benefit from this as the Northwestern Polytechnical University of China is now making five meter-long titanium wing beams for the forthcoming c919 passenger plane that is scheduled to be in service in 2016.