Weight-reduction for aerospace tools and parts remains a critical issue for many of our customers. The weight of this particular tool was a safety concern. In coordination with their EHS requirements, one of Baker Industries’ OEM customers requires that tools weigh 35 lbs. and under if being handled by one employee, 36 – 48 lbs.’ if handled by 2 employees, and all tools over 48 lbs. must be lifted by crane.
The weight of the traditionally manufactured carbon fiber bar with aluminum ends would have required a mechanical lift provision such as hoist rings. By 3D plastic printing the ends and handles, Baker was able to reduce the tools weight to only 23 lbs., which would enable a single employee to handle this tool safely and with ease.
The ends were printed using ULTEM 9085, which remains a very popular material in the aerospace industry due to its flexibility to withstand high temperatures required for certain applications.
To add to the customer’s satisfaction, this modification saved at least two days of machining time and 2 days of stress relief.
In addition, the 3D printed ends cost 30 – 40% less than the exact same components if they were machined out of aluminum. Although the 3D printed part did require a small amount of clean-up and deburring, it still saved on time and cost for shop perishables such as sanding pads and Scotch Bright that would have been needed for the aluminum components. It also saved time and costs associated with painting the aluminum pieces black. Most paints do not adhere to aluminum well and would chip and scratch during normal use. Since the ULTEM pieces were made of solid black plastic, any scratches would not show well.