3D printing fuels growth and innovation for Airframe Designs

UK provider of Stratasys 3D printers, Tri-Tech 3D, has supplied aerospace design and manufacturing business Airframe Designs with two Fortus 450mc systems.

These fused deposition modelling (FDM) systems have enabled Airframe Designs to accurately and repeatably manufacture end use parts and perform a world-leading National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP) materials development project.

In July 2020, to support the NATEP materials project, Airframe Designs invested in its first Stratasys Fortus 450mc 3D Printer from Tri-Tech 3D, who installed the system and provided full training. The 18-month Government-funded project aims to be a world-first in airworthy part production using water-soluble supports, to speed up manufacturing and reduce potential for damage. This investment also enabled Airframe Designs to print customer parts using aerospace-certified materials, such as tooling and assembly aids, as well as more complex assemblies.

Originally, the Fortus 450mc was running 50 per cent of the time on the NATEP project — the remaining half of the time the machine was producing customer parts. However, the machine reached its capacity for customer projects, and Airframe Designs was unable to take on more. So, in January 2024, Airframe Designs purchased a second Fortus 450mc from Tri-Tech 3D, to add to its manufacturing capacity.

As well as taking on more work, the second system has enabled Airframe Designs to increase throughput. For example, when an urgent customer project came through for a complex 25-part assembly, the team was able to deliver it in four working days — something that wouldn’t have been possible with a single system.

“Now we have experience with the Fortus 450mc, we know with 95 per cent confidence that it will build optimally,” said Garry Sellick, additive manufacturing manager at Airframe Designs. “Typically we are achieving ±0.5 mm accuracy, which is the tolerance we work to, and we’re achieving a high level of repeatability. While we’ve had very few problems, we know Tri-Tech 3D is always on the end of the phone if we need something.”

“With the Fortus 450mc, the team at Airframe Designs has been able to edit print parameters to optimise machine performance, a benefit for the NATEP programme and for its customers,” explained Robert Pitts, sales manager at Tri-Tech 3D. “Available with a suite of validated materials, the Fortus 450mc is suitable for a wide range of aerospace applications, including cabin parts and tooling.”

The Fortus 450ms is an industrial Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) 3D printer that brings speed, cost and material advantages, as well as offers the repeatability and accuracy required in aerospace applications.



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