The aerospace industry has a long history of early adaption. It has often led the way in materials and production methods. For example, the aerospace industry was the earliest user of carbon fibre, and it was the first to integrate CAD/CAM into its design process. There are many other examples that show that trends in aerospace are predictors of future trends in manufacturing across all industries.
The aerospace industry has gradually incorporated additive manufacturing (AM) from concept design right through to repair. When the Aerospace industry first began to use the technology some 20 years ago it was on minor non safety critical parts. Fast forward to today and more than 1,000 parts on the Airbus A350 XWB jet were 3D printed with materials that only recently became available. Moreover other companies are now beginning to produce safety critical parts using additive manufacturing.
This has a trickle down effect not only into other industries e.g rapid prototyping, medical and even food but on service providers. For example, thanks to the complex multi point geometries involved in AM new NDT methods have had to be pioneered.
As ever we would love to hear your thoughts on the future of AM and which technologies the Aerospace industry are currently adapting that could shape various industries for the next 20 year period.