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The Tale of Two Cities – Additive Manufacturing for Aerospace vs Automotive

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The genesis of additive manufacturing (AM) can be traced back to research in polymer resin stereolithography from the 1980s in the United States. It has since grown aggressively, globally, yet sporadically, varying widely by industry. Aerospace is one of the major end-markets given the technology’s ability to produce lightweight, consolidated parts. At the same time, the rigorous nature of the aerospace material qualification process has buffeted widespread adoption. 

The automotive industry poses its own unique challenges to AM adoption. Its production rates are four orders of magnitude greater than that of commercial aerospace. Although this industry, too, endeavors to lightweight its vehicles, the cost point places tough constraints on tolerances, materials and production throughout. Is there an AM business case for automotive?

Indeed, aircraft are designed, optimized and certified for airworthiness, whereas automobiles are focused ostensibly on crashworthiness. Beyond these fundamental objectives, this presentation will explore additional similarities and differences between these seemingly disparate industries. How much commonality is there between materials and processes? How does the global supply chain affect adoption in either case? What is the role of regulators and of standards development organizations? How does the potential for adoption vary by material system? Could Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) serve as a catalyst to help with convergence? 

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the fundamental challenges of AM adoption between aerospace and automotive.
  • Anticipate the effects on global supply chain concerning the adoption of AM and its relationship to TRL.
  • Explain the process and difference between qualification and certification and the role of consensus-based standards.