• Taking part

    Taking part

    South African researchers could be responsible for saving millions of dollars in fuel and production costs. This comes with the development of the world’s largest aircraft parts-producing machine.

    Using lasers to melt powdered titanium, the new manufacturing process is becoming increasingly popular with the automotive, aerospace and military industries as a cheaper way of making complex parts. So much so that Aerosud and the CSIR National Laser Centre – makers of the giant Aeroswift titanium SLM 3D printer – are in talks with Airbus and Boeing, with the first commercial application expected in 2019.

    According to Reuters, the government-backed project produced the first three demonstration parts in 2016, namely a throttle lever, condition lever grip (part of the throttle assembly) and fuel tank pylon bracket.

    During trials, the machine reached production speeds of up to 10 times faster than current commercial laser melting machines, while production volume stood at around four times higher.

    7 March 2017
    Image: Gallo/Getty Images