Production aircraft parts built by laser sintering

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Paramount PDS is laser sintering aircraft parts from flame-retardant polyamide powder, PA 2210 FR, developed by EOS.

Components that have been rapid-manufactured by laser-sintering plastic powder directly from CAD models are being used routinely by a luxury commercial aircraft manufacturer in the USA. Paramount PDS is producing aircraft parts from flame-retardant polyamide powder, PA 2210 FR, developed by EOS. The material has passed independent testing for aircraft burn, smoke and toxicity, as well as UL 94 V-0 flammability. It is available in the UK through subsidiary, EOS Ltd, Warwick, for use with the company's range of laser-sintering machines.

Jim Williams, president of Paramount, comments; "Prior to producing PA 2210 FR parts, we had our own independent tests carried out under FAR 25.853 specifications, and others, to confirm the material's flame retardancy properties. Not only did it pass, but it outperformed five other materials that were tested at the same time."

As it met all of the relevant regulations, Paramount proceeded with rapid-manufacturing of more than a dozen flight hardware components for the aircraft manufacturer.

Williams continues: "Laser-sintering with PA 2210 FR has enabled the aircraft manufacturer to slash production lead times and has eliminated tooling costs. Our customer has now adopted laser-sintering as standard for production of custom polymer flight hardware."

Increased design freedom

He also notes that the company has taken full advantage of the freedom of design that rapid manufacturing offers: "Each of the aircraft components was specifically designed and engineered for rapid manufacturing. This resulted in complex configurations that could not have been moulded or machined, and that optimally addressed the form and functional needs of the applications."

According to Jim Fendrick, vice president of EOS North America, Paramount is the first company in the USA to offer PA 2210 FR laser-sintered components. The contract supplier had a number of customers that needed flame retardant materials; when it learned of the new material, it agreed to become a beta test site. Throughout the past eight months, Paramount has reported that it is very pleased with the processing of PA 2210 FR materials and the properties of the resulting parts.

Williams states: "From the very first run, we have been building great parts. There have been no problems whatsoever. In fact, there is no difference between processing parts with PA 2210 FR and making them with EOS's other polyamides."

Williams also notes that there are no change to visual or dimensional part quality. He tested the material in Paramount's in-house metrology lab and confirmed that there is negligible loss of material strength compared to unfilled polyamide.

EOS has commercially released PA 2210 FR, which is available worldwide. Testing by certified and accredited laboratories confirm that the polyamide complies with flammability and smoke generation regulations - FAR 25.853; ABD 0031/AITM 2.0002, 2.0007; and BSS 7230/7238: and smoke toxicity - ABD 0031/AITM 3.0005; BSS 7239. PA 2210 FR has a UL 94 V-0 flammability rating and is free from halogens.

25 July 2007

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