3D Printing Materials for Aerospace

Updated: Jan 12

The growing role of Additive Manufacturing in the Aerospace sector is continuing to generate innovations, lead industry developments and reduce costs in improved supply chains.


This is due to not only the development of the 3D printer technologies, but also the development of 3D printing materials with unique properties and uses, ideally matched to aerospace manufacturing applications.


Leading 3D printer manufacturer Markforged have a vast understanding of how Additive can benefit the aerospace industry, with unique material properties developed specific to aerospace applications:



ULTEM™ 9085 Filament


With the announcement of Markforged’s “biggest, fastest, most sophisticated 3D printer yet”, the FX20, came the addition of ULTEM™ 9085 Filament for 3D printing everything from performance tooling and fixtures to flight-ready production parts.


ULTEM™ Filament, also known as Polyetherimide (PEI), has very high heat resistance and high dielectric strength, and can go through thousands of cycles in a steam-based sterilisation autoclave without degradation. It is also chemical resistant, and and has a high strength-to-weight ratio, which is crucial for keeping aircraft as lightweight as possible.


An ideal material for Additive Manufacturing for Aerospace, ULTEM™ 9085 Filament can be reinforced with continuous Carbon Fibre with the new FX20 3D printer, bringing composite strength to an aerospace ready material.




Onyx FR-A and Carbon Fibre FR-A


Markforged also have purpose-built aerospace ready materials: Onyx FR-A and Carbon Fibre FR-A.


Flame retardant materials with lot-level material traceability, they pass the test suite necessary for qualification under 14 CFR 25.853 for most 3D printable parts. The option for continuous Carbon Fibre reinforcement allows for added part strength and durability in an aerospace environment.


Onyx FR-A material earned a UL Blue Card, and is considered V-0 (self extinguishing) at thicknesses greater than or equal to 3mm.


Recommended applications:

  • Weld fixturing

  • Aerospace clips and brackets

  • Energy / electrical brackets and fixtures

  • Laser marking fixtures


Onyx FR-A and Carbon Fiber FR-A as printed on the Markforged X7 are undergoing qualification through the NCAMP process.



Onyx


Markforged’s established composite base material, Onyx (Nylon with micro carbon fibres), is used throughout aerospace manufacturing applications, from prototyping to tooling and production aids. This versatile material boasts high strength, toughness and chemical resistance, and can be reinforced with a number of Continuous Fibres for additional strength and durability.


Onyx also offers a great surface finish, with little to no post-processing required. This makes it ideal for cabin-ready parts in aerospace, including cabin components, cockpit consoles, and housing for in-flight entertainment systems.







Metal


The Markforged Metal X 3D printer allows for metal 3D printing in a variety of materials, including 17-4 PH Stainless Steel, Inconel 625, Copper and a variety of Tool Steels.


Metal 3D printing can be utilised for many applications across the aerospace production line, including high-wear tooling, corrosion-resistant brackets and fixtures, and turbine hardware.




Currently, all of the top 10 worldwide leading Aerospace companies are using Additive Manufacturing to transform all areas of aircraft development and component production. This is only possible due to the range of 3D printing materials available, allowing aerospace suppliers and manufacturers the freedom to continue to transform their industry into the future.



Find out more about Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace.


 

The ULTEM™ and 9085 trademarks are used under license from SABIC, its affiliates or subsidiaries.