3D printing a mock up of Airbus A380 First Class cabin

3D printing a mock up of Airbus A380 First Class cabin

Some orders are extraordinary challenges, even for experienced model builders like Modellbau Robert Hofmann.

Modellbau Robert Hofmann, part of the Hofmann Innovation Group based in Lichtenfels, Germany, has been given a special assignment. The task was to design 28 1:1 scale Business Class seats along with 6 individual cabins and a lounge for First Class, for the Airbus Showroom in Toulouse, France.
The mock-ups are seat modules and sleeping modules, which will be used to impress airlines' buyers with what long-haul flight luxury can look like, in advance of purchasing a wide-body aircraft like the A380.For this project, many individual components needed to be fit to each other precisely. Not only were the time constraints set by the client, Airbus, tight, but the designer's aesthetic requirements also needed to be fulfilled.In addition, Assemblies for passenger aviation must meet the criteria for lightweight construction.
Besides, there are also extremely high safety requirements, which can only be fulfilled using high-temperature-resistant high-performance plastics, such as PEEK or PEI.Intelligent engineering design and material selection lead to enormous cost savings over the long product lifetime of an aircraft.

Additive manufacturing

Besides using different injection molds for the production of these components, Hofmann also produces high quality titanium parts for heavily loaded components using 3D printing technology. The components are fabricated from metal powder using the LaserCusing layer construction method.

LaserCusing was introduced in 2004 by Concept Laser GmbH, member of the Hofmann Innovation Group. The term "CUSING" being made up from the words concept and fusing. The process uses a laser to fuse metallic powders and allows components to be built up layer by layer from almost any metal. The particular laser used completely melts the metal during the process producing a part that is free of stress and/or deformation. This unique laser along with the use of single-component metal powders differentiates the LaserCUSING process from competitive processes.

The laser melting process with metals allows extreme geometry freedoms and functional integration for developers at Hofmann Group. Application examples include bionic holders for connecting the outer skin of the aircraft with the cabin or filling connections for oxygen supply.

"LaserCUSING sets completely new benchmarks for the development of components. Generative processes, such as 3D printing, must be seen completely separately from the boundaries of tool and mould engineering. This way solutions become possible that seemed impossible a few years ago using classic casting methods," says Jens Henzler, Managing Director of Robert Hofmann GmbH.




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