When it comes to airplanes and rockets, the lighter the machine is the better. A lighter plane or rocket will be able to have increased fuel efficiency and be able to go further. There are several ways that manufacturers are trying to keep the weight of aircraft down. One way is to use 3D printing as well as machining in order to make the parts that the aircraft will need.
Instead of using ink, commercial 3D printers use a special material and create the part that they are working on one layer at a time. The material is generally a very high-quality and durable thermoplastic. There are benefits and disadvantages to both.
Benefits of 3D Printing
One benefit to using a 3D printer to create a part is that the part is going to be lighter than if it were made out of some other kind of material. It is very convenient to use a 3D printer in order to create a prototype that can be used to see if a part is the right size to fit into the empty slot or if the piece is going to be practical to be used in a larger scope.
Disadvantage to 3D Printing
One of the disadvantages to using 3D printing to create parts is that it can take longer to create the part. The more complex the part is, the longer it is going to take for the printer to lay enough layers in order to get the part built up. Another drawback to using it is that there is a limit to how big the necessary part can be before the printers aren't easily able to create them with the necessary precision.
When a part is machined, it is usually done with a CNC machine. Those machines are attached to computers. The computer runs the design of the part through the controlling program for the CNC machine. Instead of building a piece up layer by layer, the CNC machine creates the piece by taking material away.
Benefits of Machining
CNC machines are able to use more materials than the 3D printers can. They can work on plastics, wood, or metal. They also work faster than a 3D printer can.
Drawbacks to Machining
A CNC machine needs to have a skilled operator in order to work the machine and the CAD/CAM program that controls how the part is made.
Both machining and 3D printing are necessary to the aerospace industry. The precision parts that are created through both methods are able to help keep the weight down so the aircraft are more efficient. For more information, contact a machine shop, like Aero Mechanism Precision.