Hexagon Stratasys ULTEM- aerospace partnership

Hexagon and Stratasys partner for aerospace AM

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Hexagon and Stratasys have joined to unlock aerospace innovation and reduce part lead time for certified design-to-3D-print solution for plastics.

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has announced a new solution with 3D printing experts Stratasys, to help manufacturers in the aerospace sector boost confidence in the performance and safety of 3D printed plastic components and compress time to market.

Through the virtual engineering and manufacturing support provided by the partnership, Hexagon says customers will be able to reduce a two-to-three-year timescale of designing and testing a part to “six-to-9 months”.

Through the new partnership, users of Stratasys’ Ultem 9085 filament can now use Hexagon’s Digimat material modelling software to predict how printed parts will perform.

Ultem 9085 can be used for parts in aircraft cabin interiors, such as bracket, pieces for cable routing, covers and duct components, all of which are required to meet stringent certification, for example around flammability and toxicity.

Airbus has used FDM technology in these applications dating back to 2014. Some customers also use the material in cosmetic aircraft interiors, such as Diehl aviation, which has used it to create curtain headers that divide cabin classes for the Airbus A350.

Using Digimat, engineers will be able to predict how parts made from Ultem 9085 filament may behave when made using approved Stratasys printers. This is made possible through an accurate virtual material model jointly developed by the two companies through physical testing, which includes detailed information about the material’s internal microstructure.

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The software’s process simulation capabilities help manufacturers avoid defects such as the delineation of warpage of a part and analyse the print time and material cost for the proprietary printer toolpaths of these machines to achieve an optimal result.

Guillaume Boisot, Head of ICME, Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, said: “The aerospace industry is continuously pushing the boundaries of performance and innovation, but current confidence in the performance of additive manufactured parts is mostly limiting its application to highly specialised metal parts.

“We are excited that this new development in our partnership with Stratasys will help compress the design and testing phases and improve understanding of plastic behaviour and speed up innovation across the sector.”

Stratasys VP for Aerospace Scott Sevcik, added: “The dual needs to make complex parts lighter and produce low volumes economically has meant that aerospace has pulled 3D printing towards production and put the sector ahead of the curve in use of the technology. But this also means it’s the first industry to identify several challenges, a key one being the need for a digital toolset to provide confidence in 3D printed parts.

“Our partnership with Hexagon is a big step forward in solving that, as it gives engineers the same upfront design intelligence for 3D printing, that they have for traditional processes.”

The solution can now be accessed by customers of the Digimat material modelling software, while Stratasys customers can request access to detailed proprietary material cards through its Materials Exchange capabilities and import toolpaths directly from Stratasys Insight software.