MyShape, the Airbus design tool created for 3D printing

The 2016 edition of the 3DExperience forum organized by Dassault systems was an opportunity for Airbus to unveil a tool especially developed by the french editor for the aircraft manufacturer: MyShape. It is a new 3D design tool designed to make manufacturing of 3D printing capabilities. The tool calls into question traditional parametric approach since it relies on numerical computation to create the best possible play by using fixed constraints. Algorithms draw lighter parts, and the gains of productivity are spectacular.

Airbus uses 3D printing for 2 years now

Dominique Moreau, VP Head of technical Authority at Airbus airframe was present on the stage of the 3D Experience forum in order to present the strategy of the industrialist to 3D printing. Who is responsible for the design of the structures of aircraft from European lines, explained the interest of additive manufacturing techniques for the manufacturer: “3D printing is an emerging technology that for the first time, lets get a gain in cost and weight savings. Generally, when there is an aeronautical engineer, we choose high-performance products like composites that are expensive to manufacture either less expensive, but less efficient products”said Dominique Moreau. “With 3D printing, we win on the cost because we use only the material that we need and we also gain mass can make parts very very complex.” This ability to produce parts which form is not limited by the constraints of production will change the way in which will be drawn tomorrow aircraft structural parts. “The design of parts is affected because we have virtually no limits on what can be given to these parts and we approach what is called the bionic design, we increasingly mimics the nature which is very efficient to optimize his designs since they are the result of an evolution of several thousands of years. With 3D printing, you can make pieces that incorporate joints, and can also create hollow pieces as is the skeleton of birds.”

A thousand pieces produced by 3D printing in each Airbus A350

According to Dominique Moreau, the Airbus 350, the most modern aircraft in the range of the aircraft manufacturer, about 1,000 are produced in 3D printing. “It is mostly plastic parts and at the beginning of the year we will move to, structural parts in titanium. To develop these parts, needed us a powerful tool, and we had a discussion with Dominique Florack (Deputy General Director in charge of research and development at Dassault Systèmes) telling them that with Catia, Abaqus, a tool for optimization of forms, but what we need, it is a tool that incorporates all, a tool that breaks the boundaries between specialists. In our industry we work very people around the tools that were available. “We wanted an end-to-end tool that can be used by much more versatile people.”
Airbus wrote the specifications of this tool during the summer 2014 and Dassault systems, already well established at Airbus with Catia, which won the tender. At the end of a year and a half of work, Dassault systems developers have delivered a beta version of the tool that is named MyShape. As has detailed it Dominique Moreau onstage, the designer sets the 3D area that can occupy the room on the plane, established its points of contact with the surrounding elements of structures and the various constraints it must ensure. Then this is the software that draws the piece. MyShape operates the algorithm of calculation of the existing structures of Airbus in order to perform the calculation of the optimal play. “The software integrates both of the functions of design and simulation functions. He made an optimization of forms on given criteria as the expected performance, the mass taking into account resistance expected for the piece, its lifetime compared to fatigue cycles, the software optimizes then the shape of the room. The difficulty of the tool, it is that from the mesh, which comes from the optimization of shape, it is to recreate the 3D solid usable Catia then to toss the coin in manufacturing. It was the complexity and we have here a tool that is very powerful.” The tool offers several solutions to the designer, including a solution optimized but compatible with a fabrication by milling or even a more powerful piece again but could only be manufactured by 3D printing.
At the end of phase Beta, the software began to be deployed with 100 users 12 December 2016 before a deployment that is wider at the aircraft manufacturer and its partners if the tool keeps its promises.

Design time of a part was divided by 4!

Because in terms of benefits brought by the software MyShape, the figures presented by Dominique Moreau are spectacular. “Today, we feel that the achieved time savings is a factor 4. Mass gain is of the order of 20 to 30%. The prospects of this technology are various. Today we carry plastic parts but we have just termed the use of titanium and we would like to make the aluminum parts. We still have the problem of deformation of the parts when printing. So we want to integrate into our tool a deformation forecast.”
Now, the hour is a the rise of 3D printing at Airbus, with including the Assembly of parts metal on the A350 in 2017. Still a lot of progress to make on the side of the printer. As probably all industrialists, Dominique Moreau wish of larger sizes, faster machines to produce more large pieces of structure. It also pushes manufacturers of printers to standardize their machines, particularly in order to make interfacing between software such as MyShape and their simpler printers. These limits, Vice President of Airbus remains enthusiastic about 3D printing and its impact in the aviation industry: “it changes the way it conceives aircraft since we have virtually no limits to the complexity. This will also change as the industrial system as to provide spare parts to airlines we won’t have need of hangars with thousands of m2 of storage, we won’t need to send parts to the other side of the world for an airline that will have to wait for the clearance of parts, pay customs duties. This will also change our business model as a part of our turnover is generated today by spare parts. “We will have to find a new model with the airlines so that they always find an added value to our order parts rather than scan the parts of their aircraft and print themselves.”

Translation : Bing Translator

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