Innovative solutions in aerospace through ALM and traditional manufacturing processes

Initial situation:
In the aerospace industry, the requirements for design, weight optimization and quality are always at the forefront. Robert Hofmann was faced with the challenge of meeting these requirements in the production of parts for an aerospace project, where the budget was limited and the quantities remained relatively small (<400).

The customer's initial request to metallize plastic parts presented an interesting challenge that required innovative approaches to meet the desired specifications.

The challenges were to combine large dimensions with low weight to ensure the structural integrity of the part while adhering to certified aerospace processes. In addition, it was necessary to meet the optical finishing and mechanical strength requirements to meet customer demands.

Solution approach: 
To meet these requirements, Robert Hofmann GmbH opted for an innovative approach that combined the use of Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) with traditional manufacturing processes. ALM technology made it possible to produce complex geometries with thin-walled hollow constructions that were both light and rigid. The release of the series parts was ensured by using the material AlSi10Mg and a suitable machine, the X Line 1000, which was suitable for large parts up to 530 mm.

During the additive layer manufacturing process, the X Line 1000 machine was able to produce 7 sets in one pass, reducing production time and increasing efficiency. The ALM technology made it possible to produce the thin-walled hollow structures that met both weight and structural strength requirements. At the same time, traditional manufacturing processes such as milling and machine grinding were used to improve surface quality and precision.

Quality assurance and certification:
Meeting the EASA-approved special processes for additive layer manufacturing placed high demands on documentation and quality assurance. Robert Hofmann GmbH implemented strict quality controls throughout the manufacturing process to ensure that the parts met stringent aviation standards and received all required certifications.

The results were impressive: by combining ALM with traditional manufacturing processes, Robert Hofmann GmbH was able to exceed the customer's requirements. The manufactured parts showed increased stability compared to the original concept, further reduced weight due to the one-piece hollow construction with thin wall thicknesses and increased quality and product life due to the integration of metal parts. In addition, the use of the X Line 1000 machine and the efficient production in small quantities meant that tool costs could be saved and the speed of implementation increased. The haptic properties of the parts even exceeded the customer's expectations, resulting in an overall impressive solution.

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