8/23/2017 | 1 MINUTE READ

3D Printing Speeds Development of All-Electric Plane

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Eviation Aircraft is using Stratasys 3D printing to accelerate the R&D process for its electric commuter aircraft.

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Stratasys has announced that Eviation Aircraft, a global manufacturer of all-electric air mobility solutions, is using 3D printing to develop what it says is one of the world’s first all-electric commuter aircraft. The company aims to make regional air travel more cost-effective and clean within the next four years through all-electric air travel.

The company has integrated Stratasys 3D printing throughout its R&D processes for electric commuter aircraft. The entire development process—including aerodynamic testing and the propulsion system—was redesigned to maximize the efficiency of electric flight. 3D printing has enabled the company to test many of its designs before investing in actual certifiable parts, resulting in accelerated processes, innovative designs and reduced engineering costs.

“Our ability to create new iterations of designs with 3D printing and see how they perform in real-time is helping us reduce critical capital costs, even as we accelerate our rapid prototyping phase,” says Eviation founder and CEO, Omer Bar-Yohay.

For example, Eviation 3D-printed its wing-tip motors in a matter of hours, enabling swifter design and functional evaluation, while waiting for the final motors to be shipped. In another application, Eviation was able to create strong, geometrically complex and lightweight parts designed to reduce interference drag on the exterior of the aircraft by 3D printing a composite lay-up tool in Ultem 1010 material, which was then covered with carbon fiber.

In two years of using 3D printing, the company says it has saved several hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as six months or more in workforce hours. In addition to prototyping test parts and manufacturing tooling with 3D printing, Eviation is also exploring the possibility of 3D printing parts for the final aircraft.

Eviation expects to begin flight testing in late 2018 with commercial availability slated for 2021.

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