MINNEAPOLIS & REHOVOT, Israel—The 3D printing and additive manufacturing company Stratasys is working with Ford and Boeing on new technology to 3D print large aerospace and automotive parts. Demonstrations of the technology, including the Stratasys Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator, were to be previewed at IMTS 2016 as part of the company’s Shaping What’s Next™ vision for manufacturing.

In a company release, Stratasys said that its Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator builds on the company’s industrial FDM® 3D printing expertise to respond to the needs of customers’ most challenging applications. The 3D demonstrator is said to address manufacturers’ needs to rapidly produce strong parts ranging in size from an automobile armrest to an entire aircraft interior panel.

The Stratasys Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator is designed to address the requirements of aerospace, automotive, and other industries for large lightweight, thermoplastic parts with repeatable mechanical properties. The Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator offers what the company calls a revolutionary approach to FDM extrusion that increases throughput and repeatability. The system is said to turn the traditional 3D printer concept on its side to realize an “infinite-build” approach that prints on a vertical plane for practically unlimited part size in the build direction.

Aerospace giant Boeing played an influential role in defining the requirements and specifications for the demonstrator. Boeing is currently using an Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator to explore the production of low volume, lightweight parts. Ford Motor Company is also exploring innovative automotive manufacturing applications for this demonstrator, and will evaluate this new technology. Ford and Stratasys will work together to test and develop new applications for automotive-grade 3D printed materials that were not previously possible due to limited size, enabling and accelerating innovative automotive product design, Stratasys said.

“3D printing holds the promise of changing automotive design and manufacturing because it opens up new ways to innovate and create efficiencies in production,” said Mike Whitens, director of vehicle enterprise sciences at Ford Research & Advanced Engineering, in the release. “Our vision at Ford is to make high-speed, high-quality printing of automotive-grade parts a reality. We are excited about the future opportunities that the scalable and versatile Infinite-Build concept can unlock, and look forward to collaborating with Stratasys to help achieve our goals.”

Boeing Phantom Works President Darryl Davis said that additive manufacturing represents a great opportunity for Boeing and its customers. “We made a strategic decision more than a decade ago to work closely with Stratasys on this technology. We are always looking for ways to reduce the cost and weight of aircraft structures, or reduce the time it takes to prototype and test new tools and products so we can provide them to customers in a more affordable and rapid manner. The Stratasys Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator enables products to be made at a much larger and potentially unlimited length, offering us a breakthrough tool to add to our robust additive manufacturing processes.”

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