© NASA/Tony Landis
© NASA/Tony Landis

Project set to boost aviation efficiency

Software specialist, CENIT, is to participate in EU-funded project ‘BionicAircraft’, which aims to boost resource efficiency in aviation by implementing additive manufacturing and bionic design in all phases of the aircraft lifecycle.

The project is aimed at reducing and controlling emissions in the aviation industry. CENIT is one of ten international consortium partners from various industry sectors as well as research and development organisations. They are working together to develop technologies and concepts for additive manufacturing that enable environment-friendly lifecycles in the aviation industry.

Nine work packages were defined to achieve the goals of the research project. They address aspects such as design, production, materials development, quality control, as well as repair and disposal of 3D-printed components.

In collaboration with its partners Airbus, Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH (LZN) and the Institute for Laser and System Technologies (iLAS) at TU Hamburg-Harburg, CENIT is working to achieve a simplification of product development for lightweight bionic structures using streamlined design methodologies.

Michael Schwartz, manager for Innovative Aerospace Solutions at CENIT, said: “One of the main reasons why additive manufacturing and 3D printing has not yet had a major impact on aircraft manufacturing is the elaborate design process. Since this is not yet automated, it must be carried out via a series of different software packages. Specialised software is also needed to process data for the 3D printing machines. During the design phase, the engineers thus have to switch back and forth between different tools. This makes the process time-intensive, and that in turn makes it expensive.

“CENIT’s work thus focuses on a major simplification of the design process. To achieve this, we are integrating all 3D print, design and data conditioning processes into a single toolset for automated bionic design. That way, we can help establish a consistent digital process chain”.

Commenting on the significance of the project for the aviation industry in general, Schwartz added: “3D printing technologies and bionic structures are a major enabler in creating competitive, environment-friendly aircraft for the future. We are proud that we can contribute to such an ambitious, cutting-edge project.”