Spirit AeroSystems and Norwegian additive manufacturing company Norsk Titanium have reached an agreement to initiate qualification of Spirit's first 3D printed, titanium structural component for the Boeing 787.
This qualification will validate Norsk Titanium's production and industrialization processes, integrate Spirit's workscope of machining final parts from additively manufactured near-net shapes and verify material and final part conformity to requirements.
Founded in 2007, Norsk Titanium is the world's first FAA-approved, OEM qualified supplier of 3D printed structural titanium components. Its proprietary Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) additive manufacturing process has been in serial production of Boeing 787 titanium components since April, 2017. With RPD parts aboard, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the first commercial airplane to fly with certified additive-manufactured titanium parts in structural applications. According to Norsk Titanium, its innovative RPD fabrication process is capable of transforming titanium wire into complex parts at a lower cost and faster speeds than competing technologies.
"I am very proud of the Norsk Titanium team and this accomplishment. It represents years of technology development," said Mike Canario, CEO of Norsk Titanium. "I would also like to thank Spirit for this vote of confidence in the Norsk RPD process and capability."
Spirit AeroSystems is one of the largest manufacturers of fabricated parts for the aerospace industry. Spirit and Norsk Titanium have had an ongoing technology collaboration since 2008. In 2017, both companies signed a commercial agreement to produce 3D printed structural titanium components for the commercial aerospace industry. Norsk Titanium’s RPD technology will be used to build up the parts to a near-net shape, reducing waste, using less energy and reducing product costs by up to 30 percent.
"Spirit has had a comprehensive and long relationship with Norsk Titanium, and this part will be our first additive structural titanium component incorporated into a commercial airplane program," said Ron Rabe, Spirit AeroSystems Senior Vice President of Fabrication and Supply Chain Management.
In 2017, both companies also signed a Master Procurement Agreement (MPA) for qualification and production activities. Norsk Titanium's Plattsburgh, N.Y., facility was recently added to Spirit's Approved Supplier List (ASL) and Boeing's Qualified Producer's List (QPL).
The first 3D printed commercial aircraft part will begin serial production later this year.