Investment Casting Builds Lightweight Airplane Seat Frames
The frames could have been 3D printed in metal, but for economic production, investment casting proved to be the best option.
Lattices, organic designs and lightweight parts are all keywords commonly associated with the promise of additive manufacturing (AM). But sometimes these features and attributes can also be achieved through more conventional means. A recent project undertaken by Autodesk illustrates this point, using a very old technology: investment casting.
The goal of the project was to produce an airplane seat frame that would be lighter than the original design but just as strong. The initial design, featuring an organic lattice structure, was intended to be 3D printed in aluminum, but the cost of this process and the part’s size led researchers to look elsewhere for a manufacturing method.
Investment casting proved to be the best choice, as it is better understood, offers more material options and was more economical for this part than 3D printing. However, like 3D printing, investment casting still enables the production of complex geometries. The research team was able to keep the latticed seat frame design, but had it cast in magnesium for a total cost savings of 56 percent over conventional aluminum seats.
Although 3D printing wasn’t used as the production technology, it did play a role in the investment casting process. Read the full story on additivemanufacturing.media to learn more.
A new metal AM system for batches of end-use parts was designed to permit productivity and machine pricing comparable to a CNC machine tool.
An engineering modification that would have been impractical or cost-prohibitive in the past is realized on a machine tool performing metal 3D printing and machining in the same cycle.
A video from Pratt & Whitney illustrates the steps needed to additively manufacture an aerospace component.