Additive manufacturing ready for takeoff in the aerospace sector
Metal 3D printing is revolutionizing the aerospace industry. To keep up with growing customer demand, Morf3D, a contract additive manufacturing company, now has a new site in California with higher capacity – planned by consultants at Siemens Advanta. Using tools like Tecnomatix Plant Simulation and NX Line Designer, they created an optimal plant layout with ideal production flows.
Creating components with complex geometries that are lightweight and adhere to strict thermal, fluid-technical or other challenging requirements is a problem the aerospace industry has always grappled with.
In recent years, however, the task has gotten easier, thanks to metal additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.
Not only is this manufacturing technique perfectly suited to creating complex parts, it has added advantages, such as short production runs and the ability to further drive down weight. It should therefore come as no surprise that aerospace is the fastest-growing segment in additive manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing helps aerospace industry grow
The need for printed parts has opened a market for companies specialized in additive manufacturing. One of them is Morf3D. From its new site in Long Beach, California, U.S., the company delivers components – like fuel nozzles, antennas, and heat exchangers – to the big names in the aerospace sector.
With demand on the rise, the company’s managers decided it was time to grow. In the words of Morf3D’s CEO Ivan Madera: “Our goal was to create an integrated production system that we can scale globally.”
Ivan Madera and his colleagues chose to work with Siemens Advanta. What convinced them was the company’s track record with planning and implementing additive manufacturing factories all over the world.
Fast delivery time thanks to software and deep expertise
Over the course of six months, consultants at Siemens Advanta worked with their counterparts at Morf3D to plan and define a new additive manufacturing facility. Two factors were behind the fast delivery time:
First, Siemens software, such as Tecnomatix Plant Simulation and NX Line Designer. They allowed countless variations to be tried out virtually to find the best configuration.
Second, the Siemens Advanta toolbox of production machines, which currently includes around 50 AM-specific machines from different OEMs, with more being added regularly. The library puts details like machine capacities and installation requirements at the consultants’ fingertips so they can quickly select the right equipment for the task at hand.
Trends in additive manufacturing
What especially impressed CEO Ivan Madera throughout the process was that the colleagues from Siemens Advanta weren’t just focused on the issue at hand, but that they also had their eyes on tomorrow. “When you’re building a site as large as ours, you want to make sure that it will serve your needs well into the future,” he comments.
Siemens Advanta’s experts therefore recommended planning for machinery capable of handling larger parts. Currently, most components printed at Morf3D can fit within a 40 cm cube. “However, we’re expecting larger parts in the near future, and Morf3D is now perfectly equipped to serve that trend,” says Karsten Heuser, vice president of Additive Manufacturing at Siemens.
Another expected development is an increase in the number of alloys that will be printed. Today, most components are made primarily with a handful of alloys. Soon though, up to 100 different alloys will likely become the norm. This trend was taken into consideration for the Long Beach factory layout. Because depending on their constitution, certain alloy powders must be kept separate from one another, as stipulated in fire protection regulations and worker safety laws.
A blueprint for the next growth step
Morf3D’s production system in Long Beach is now in place, and customers are highly satisfied with the components printed and machined there. But that’s not the end of the story. The Long Beach site is also a blueprint for Morf3D’s next expansion, which could be, for example, a shop in another geography to be closer to customers there.
In addition, Morf3D and Siemens Advanta are now teaming up to support other companies in their metal 3D printing endeavors. Morf3D brings to the table competence and experience in designing and manufacturing high-quality, complex metal parts. Siemens Advanta contributes its expertise in additive manufacturing factory planning and simulation. The result is unprecedented added value for customers.
For the time being, Morf3D is using its new facility to manufacture parts that tick all the boxes regarding complex geometries that are light in weight and meet thermal or other challenging demands. But even better, the space is suited for anything that might come.
From its factory in Long Beach, California, U.S., Morf3D provides end-to-end additive manufacturing solutions to top-tier aerospace clients. The company’s suite of services also includes R&D and engineering. Morf3D believes that additive manufacturing is forever going to change design processes as well as where and how components are made.
Siemens Advanta is a strategic business unit of Siemens, enabling companies to unlock the digital future by offering end-to-end support on their unique digitalization journey. A key differentiator of Siemens Advanta is the unrivalled combination of deep domain knowledge, the strong Siemens technology stack and a powerful ecosystem of partners around the globe. With the units Siemens Advanta Consulting, Solutions and Development, its services range from strategy & operations consulting, to design & prototyping, platform solutions and data services, software and applications development to implementation and operation. Siemens Advanta cares for clients individually, creating a tailored digitalization journey designed to meet the specific needs of each client – end-to-end with all capabilities out of one hand. As part of the strong Siemens family, Siemens Advanta can draw from more than 20 years of industry expertise in IT & OT and innovation, earning a solid reputation as a strategic advisor and trusted implementation partner across various markets and industries. Siemens Advanta combines more than 9000 employees in 19 countries and 89 offices in a global network of cross-functional teams and highly skilled experts.