China commercializes 3D printing in aviation

China commercializes 3D printing in aviation

Summary: China looks to lower the cost of 3D printing and make large titanium components to build the next-gen fighter jet and self-developed passenger plane.


By using laser additive manufactured titanium parts in its aviation industry, China is looking to become a global leader in commercializing 3D printing technology.

The laser additive manufacturing technology not only lowers the cost of titanium parts to only 5 percent of the original, it also reduces the weight of the components and enhances the strength of complicated parts.

As much as 40 percent of the weight can be reduced if the forged titanium parts on an American F-22 were made using the Chinese 3D printing technology, according to a a report on Chinese Web site, Guancha Zhe.

With funding from the government, especially from the military, the Chinese aviation laser technology team is making headways in making titanium parts for the country's fifth generation of fighter jets, the J-20 and J-31, by lowering the cost and raising the jets' thrust-weight ratio.

The Northwestern Polytechnical University of China is also making five meter-long titanium wing beams for the C919 passenger plane, which is scheduled to be put into commercial operation in 2016.

"As the aviation technology develops, the components are also getting lighter, more complicated, and also need to have better mechanical properties," said Huang Weidong, director of the university's laboratory, to a local newspaper. "It is very hard to use traditional technologies to make such parts, but 3D printing could just meet such demands."

This 5-meter-long titanium beam was made in a Chinese university lab. (Source: Guancha Zhe)


Topics: Emerging Tech, China, Tech Industry

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  • Here is

    hoping that China is able to produce safe parts with their 3D Printers, for the sake of all the crews and passengers.
  • The company is called "Bright Laser Technologies"

    It's actually a spin-off from the Northwestern Polytechnical University called Bright Laser Technologies. I worked for them a couple of years ago in Xi'an.
  • China commercializes 3D printing in aviation

    american technology develop here at home but adapted and used by foreign manufacturing concerns. reminds me of industrial robotics used by japanese auto industries to leapfrog us car manufacturers. now the chinese seems to use 3d printing tech to advance themselves at the expense of us aviation industries ... deja vu all over again.
    • Pardon me?

      "American" technology? Where did you get that from? Just because Newton invented calculus a few years earlier than Leibniz doesn't mean Leibniz hadn't though about it. It's called technology, not a patented design blueprint. By your logic, mankind might as well give up using fire.
      • YES American Technology

        Laser Sintering was invented at the University of Texas by Carl Dekkard and Joseph Beaman. It was patented and then commercialized by 3D Systems. Today it is in use by several companies including EOS.

        It was invented over 20 years ago!

        The Author of this article neglected to point out the patented nature of the technology but then the Chinese have never respected patents...

        Chris Norman,
        Chris Norman
        • 3 Things:

          1. If Laser sintering was invented 20 years ago, the U.S. patent on it should now be expired. Are Americans still respecting patents and paying royalties to China every time you guys wipe your ass, since paper was invented there?

          2. Why should China respect U.S. patent law? Is the U.S. required to respect and abide by laws from China? What you need to understand is that there's no such thing as an international patent. If you don't agree, then you need read the PCT a bit more closely.

          3. You'd think a CEO would already know this. No wonder American companies are getting their ass kicked.
          Steven Doyle
        • I like a passionate salesman

          Well Mr CEO,

          What's your background? Social Science? Because otherwise you're really giving a bad name to your country's standard of education. The technology used to make that pieace of titanium beam has nothing to do with laser sintering.

          Stick to making money, that's where you likely to succeed, stay away from science debate.

          PS I mean no ill. Best of luck to your retail business :)
        • The pot calling the kettle black

          Patents were also created to horde ideas of distant lands. Kids in America are taught that the printing press was patented and invented by Gutenburg with no mention of prior major inventions like metal (Korea)/wooden (China) block printing by pressing or the invention of paper so time for some re-education.
        • Yes American Technology

          Almost correct. Laser Sintering was invented at the University of Texas by Carl Dekkard and Joseph Beaman. It was patented by the University of Texas. It was commercialized by DTM Corporation in Austin, Texas, who licensed it from the University of Texas. Much later 3D Systems acquired DTM Corporation and now sells laser sintering machines. The last of the basic laser sintering patents finally expired this year (2014).
          Tx Chem Eng