Addictive Additive: Blog


5 Things to Know About the Path to Certification

A recap of our first Meet the Makers web series.

What an event. If you only got two things out of Monday’s Aerospace: The Path to Certification session, then it should be that 1) Donald Godfrey can really pull off a bolo tie and 2) getting additive manufacturing for aerospace certified might seem like a long and daunting process, but SLM Solutions holds the key to a speedier, wiser, and more reliable path to qualification and certification.

For those who missed the event or if you just want to relive it, we’ve compiled a summary of the 5 main points discussed by our experts Donald Godfrey, Thorsten Grothaus, and Christoph Wangenheim. From the role of AM in aerospace to the future of Free Float to why we should all reconsider multi-laser technology, our experts covered quite some ground in one hour. You can also rewatch the full event here.

1. Repeatability is the key to basically everything.

There are two major, FAA-required challenges in the process of getting certified. First, the machine must be qualified to be repeatable. For most projects, specimens will be printed up to five times on the machine in question to prove its reliability. Second, the process and the materials need to be qualified. For both of these, it comes down to if the machine can repeatedly produce tooling of the exact same quality and standard, over and over again and at high volume. Only then, when the machine is deemed to have met the required repeatability standards, is it eligible for certification.

As our experts pointed out repeatedly during the event, SLM Solutions has vast amounts of data to ensure a stable printing process. We also know our customers well and what they want out of the process. Every machine that leaves our facility is tested according to the strict FAA quality standards. We also document pretty much everything, which leaves us with a lot of knowledge that we happily make available to customers so that they have all the information and resources they need to feel comfortable in their purchase.

2. Additive Manufacturing truly is revolutionizing the aerospace industry.

‘Revolutionize’ might be an overused word, but by golly, AM is really doing it. The beauty of Additive is that it enables absolute design freedom. Customers are not constrained by the limits of traditional manufacturing, because the process and materials of 3D printing allow for ultimate flexibility in terms of shapes and complexity. This is how the produced parts are lighter and of higher quality, which for aerospace means that customers can save fuel and costs.

As Thorsten mentioned, where AM really shines is as a convenient solution to the recent disruptions to global supply chains. By having an SLM machine placed in the production hubs of aerospace and aviation companies, customers are able to print spare parts when they’re needed, which saves costs and is more environmentally friendly than flying in parts from a different location. Customers can basically create their own independent supply chain of the exact parts they need.

3. Multi-laser technology has gotten some bad press in the past.

Once upon a time there was the dream of multi-laser technology, the process of printing with multiple lasers. It’s an amazing technology that holds a lot of potential for many different markets. Unfortunately in the past, some other companies didn’t know how to handle the amazing potential of multi-laser technology, thereby giving the entire process a bad rep.

But our AM aerospace experts are here to say that this is not the case at SLM Solutions: Though some industries are still wary of it, our multi-laser printing has repeatedly passed qualification tests to great success. From a materials perspective, there is no difference between multi-laser and the regular printing process with one laser.

4. Free Float is the future of Additive Manufacturing.

SLM Solutions sets itself apart from competitors in a variety of ways, but the biggest is probably our proprietary Free Float technology. During the talk, Christoph outlined how Free Float is an extremely innovative product where supports aren’t needed in the printing process, and therefore don’t need to be tediously removed. In printing, support parts can be hard to reach and difficult to remove. With Free Float, the supports are eliminated nearly entirely. The results are lightweight and highly complex in their design, spelling the next level of Additive Manufacturing.

And as Donald added: “If you think Free Float is impressive, wait till you see our dual alloy program.”

5. Customers will always come first. Always.

This MTM event once again solidified the fact that at SLM Solutions, we know that our relationship with our customers is much more than a transaction. Buying the machine is one thing and getting things qualified and certified are another, and something that we can be a partner in. We also have an entire library of documentation and resources for our customers.

Every customer project is unique and we listen and work with those unique needs and ideas. If you like you would like to learn more, don’t be shy and get in touch today: contact a sales rep or just email us at [email protected].



Sign up below and be among the first to receive the Meet the Makers factsheet!