Aerospace giant Airbus has filed a patent to make airliners through 3D printing in its latest innovation.
The company constructs wings for its airliners at its Broughton-based factory and is renowned for trying to revolutionise future air travel through filing patents for innovative concepts.
Airbus hope that this latest patent will mean the company can use 3D printing to produce aircraft at a faster rate.
The 3D printing process is known as ‘selective laser sinterning’ and will use a laser power source to sinter powdered particles from material such as ceramics, glass and metal to form a solid structure.
Materials such as manganese, zirconium, copper, chromium, aluminium, silicone, iron and titanium can be used to make a powder which is then placed on a pre-made shell structure. From there both the powder and structure are heated together.
After is has been left to cool, this new component can be bent to resemble the original structure and from this point the process can be repeated and more layers can be added.
In order to form the different sections of an airliner, the process will use different structures, from the cargo hold floor panels to the aircraft doors.
Airbus have published several drawings of the process which show specifically how the new process will be used to make airliners, such as drawings of various wing structures.
In theory, this new method of making airliners should make it possible to mass produce different parts of aircraft and speed up the current manufacturing process.
However this is not the first time that aircraft manufacturing has been done by 3D printing.
Boeing, one of Airbus’ biggest competitors, has already started using the 3D process for its Boeing 777X group of aircraft to construct sensors, fuel nozzles and fan turbine blades.
It is anticipated that they will be the longest airliners in the world and should be ready for 2020.