Piper Begins 3D Printing Components


Piper has produced its first production part using additive manufacturing—more commonly known as 3D printing—according to a company announcement last week. The part, a climate control system component, was printed using an HP Multi Jet Fusion 4200 3D printer. Piper says it is currently focusing on creating and testing non-flight-critical components with the goal of achieving FAA approval and expanding the use of 3D printing in aircraft manufacturing.

“By being able to print parts and components on site rather than purchasing them from suppliers, we can create parts on demand, control quality, increase our speed from engineering to manufacturing, and focus on building the aircraft,” said Piper Aircraft CEO Simon Caldecott. “With our recent implementation of HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, we have saved hundreds of hours of work time, which has resulted in savings of up to 200% on certain parts.”

Piper’s additive manufacturing center was established in the third quarter (Q3) of 2018. The company says it has been working to identify aircraft parts that can be produced using additive manufacturing technology since late that year.

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Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. It may be a typo, but a capability of good additive manufacturing design allows for printing complex shapes the may allow several individual components (constrained by limitations of traditional manufacturing means and also requiring assembly) to be manufactured as a single complex piece.

  2. I don’t think anybody is giving the FAA enough credit here… By the time Piper gets PMA approval, the big 200 percent discount will be a 200 percent increase. A $25 3D printed air vent will cost $250 once the FAA runs it through their friendlier streamline certification process. But hey, at least it will be “safe”.