Largest Plastic Aircraft Part Printed

Aerospace is gradually looking at new ways to replace metals with plastics, and existing plastics with even better, modern plastics, composites, and manufacturing methods.

Traditionally, aircraft structures have been made from metals, and more recently from composites. Composite manufacturing itself is labor intensive, but modern composites can offer superior performance to both metals and plastics.

A partnership in the Netherlands between industry and the academe has been working on creating large aerospace structures using robotic fiber placement, and they have so far produced a large fuselage skin panel, measuring over 8 metres in length.

The project, named “STUNNING”, aims to utilize modern manufacturing techniques to create a next generation fleet of aircraft with reduced weight (and reduced emissions) while maintaining the same strength and durability of steel and aluminum in their structures.

In addition, the project will reduce the total time of production and maintenance activities associated with aircraft structures.

You can see the component, which has been described as the largest singular plastic part ever made for an aircraft, in the image below.