The world of 3D printing is making itself felt more and more, such is the example of South Africa where the work in complex applications related to industry has increased remarkably. As a sign of this we have the Aeroswift project started in 2011 with the support of the government and launched in collaboration with Aerosud, a major additive manufacturing actor, and the South African Scientific and Industrial Research Council (CSIR). The goal of this project is to create the world's largest 3D metal printer, capable of building aircraft parts with titanium powder at high speed.
The aerospace sector is one of the most important for additive manufacturing and most of its actors are characterized by their constant desire of innovation in order to achieve greater efficiency. Thus was born the world's largest metal printer designed by Aeroswift, with a print volume of 2000 x 600 x 600 mm, surpassing Laser Concept’s printer, the Xline 2000R, that even if the manufacturing technology is not the same its maximum volume is 800 x 400 x 500mm. Currently there are only 5 printers like it.
In 2016, the team involved in the project showed three pieces of titanium created by this printer that demonstrated a speed 10 times faster than other machines of similar technology. According to CSIR's Hardus Greyling "Our machine is unique. We have developed new technologies and patents that allow us to improve the printing process to go faster and make bigger pieces. "
This project has been a great success since it saves millions in the aerospace industry as manufacturers would replace aluminum parts with lighter pieces of titanium alloys. CSIR and Aerosud are already preparing the commercialization of their machines and have begun a negotiation with Boeing and Airbus to produce titanium parts reducing the weight and price of the aircraft.
With the world's largest 3D metal printer, South Africa could be the leader of the industry as it also has more Titanium reserves after China, Australia and India. The Aeroswift team plans to launch its test flights this year with parts printed in 3D to give the green light to the official marketing of the machine in 2019.