Boeing has recently signed an agreement with Norway’s Norsk Titanium for additive production of titanium parts for the 787 Dreamliner, according to a statement from Norsk Titanium. According to a representative of the Norwegian manufacturer, additive technology, commonly called 3D printing, could help Boeing save anywhere between $2 and $3 million on each wide-body aircraft.
A lightweight titanium alloy used in 787 Dreamliners costs seven times more than aluminum. The cost of the alloy for one Dreamliner is $17 million, with the total price per unit being $256 million, according to Reuters. The 787 needs more titanium than similar aircraft, due to carbon-fiber fuselage and wings. Reducing the costs of the titanium would significantly affect unit costs.
Boeing designed the components and collaborated closely with Norsk Titanium throughout the development process. To certify these initial structural components on the Dreamliner, Boeing and Norsk Titanium undertook a rigorous testing program with FAA certification deliverables completed in February 2017.
Both companies hope for getting the required production permits for additive production shortly and start manufacturing by the end of 2017.
“We are proud to take this historical step with a great aerospace innovator like Boeing,” said Norsk Titanium President & Chief Executive Officer Warren M. Boley, Jr. “The Norsk Titanium team will continue to expand the portfolio of components supplied to Boeing meeting stringent certification requirements. It is an honor to earn FAA approval for these structural parts.”
Norsk Titanium would initially produce the parts in Europe but has plans to move production to Plattsburgh, New York by the end of 2017.