Indaero gains 3D printed tools business

Indaero, a Spanish aerospace and engineering company, has picked up new business with several Tier 1 and Tier 2 Airbus suppliers to produce complex tools.

Indaero redesigned and produced this tool, which is nine kilos lighter than the traditionally manufactured tool, using the Stratasys Fortus 450mc 3D Printer.

Indaero manufactures aircraft panels for key customers such as Airbus and its suppliers, offering a comprehensive range of services including design, engineering, tooling, welding and painting. the company invested in a Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer, which has helped it extend its offering into lightweight, complex tools that cannot be produced with traditional manufacturing.

Darío González Fernández, CEO of Indaero, says that the aerospace industry is unique because of the high volume of tooling used, explaining: “To traditionally manufacture production tools, injection molding or CNC machining would be used, but this would be very time-consuming and costly. With our Fortus 450mc 3D Printer, we can service low-volume production quickly and cost-effectively, pro ducing many different tools on-demand to accelerate the manufacturing process and ensure we meet customer delivery deadlines.”

Additive manufacturing allows Indaero to quickly design and produce complex curved geometries that perfectly fit the intricate shapes of the aircraft panels. González adds: “The ability to 3D print curved production tools in robust materials made us realize the importance of having tools that perfectly fit the panels. Not only does it make the work of our operators much easier, it frees up resources and increases our overall productivity. This improvement was immediately recognized by a number of leading Airbus providers such as Aernnova, who previously worked with our competitors and whose business we have subsequently secured.”

So, for example, Indaero has produced tools that Aernnova uses to manufacture the Airbus NH90 Helicopter. This includes a 3D printed manufacturing tool to fix a slide box onto the interior panel of the helicopter wing. Traditionally, an aluminum tool weighed twelve kilos and required two operators to hold it against the panel while marking the drill holes. But 3D printing allows for more complex geometries meaning that this tool could be redesigned with a curvature perfectly fitting the panel structure, that is nine kilos lighter than its predecessor and capable of standing on its own so that a single operator can work with it. It also quicker to produce the 3D tooling, which speeds up the production and helps to reduce the overall costs.

González says that another important element is Stratasys’ Ultem 9085 material, noting: “It has become an integral part of our production process, as it is certified for aerospace and well known by our customer Airbus for a number of aircraft applications. With its unique combination of high strength-to-weight ratio and FST (flame, smoke, and toxicity) certification, we can 3D print robust, lightweight tools and respond to short run production of flying parts if required – giving us a unique advantage versus competition.”


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