May.29, 2013 – At the 16th China International High-tech Expo which took place during May 21-26, 2013 in Beijing, AVIC Laser, a subsidiary of AVIC Heavy Machinery, showed off the world’s largest titanium aircraft critical component produced using 3D Laser Direct Manufacturing technology. AVIC Laser displayed, for the first time, a large 3D printed titanium part for J-20 or J-31 stealth fighter. According to AVIC Laser, their 3D Laser Direct Manufacturing technology has been used in producing 7 kinds of aircraft, including Y-20 Strategic Airlifter, J-15 carrier-borne fighter, C919 airliner and next generation stealth fighters. The J-15’s chief designer confirmed in March that printable components are being used “in major load-bearing parts, including the [J-15’s] front landing gear.” AVIC Laser was established in 2000. Funded by Chinese government, especially the military, the team has solved several technical difficulties during the first seven years’ research and development of the technology, such as “inert gas protection system”, “defect control”, “metal lattice growth control” etc. On Jan.18, 2013 AVIC Laser won the national technology invention award in Beijing. The 3D Laser Direct Manufacturing technology could lower the cost of titanium parts to only 5 percent of the original. It costs about 25 million yuan ($4m) to process one ton titanium alloy complex structural parts using traditional method, but with 3D Laser Direct Manufacturing it costs only 1.3 million ($212k). Currently AVIC Laser’s 3D Laser Direct Manufacturing technology can be used to make large structural parts using titanium alloy, high-strength steel, high temperature & high strength steel. Compared with conventional processes, this technology could save up to 90% of materials and costs. And if the forged titanium parts on an American F-22 were made using the Chinese 3D printing technology, around 40 percent of the weight can be reduced. It’s not only military planes that will benefit from this, the Northwestern Polytechnical University of China has also used the same technology to print out a five meter-long titanium wing beam for the C919 passenger plane which is expected to be put into commercial operation in 2016.
Source : 3DERS