Airbus Helicopters prints prototypes of windshield wipers with German RepRap x400 3D Printer
When developing new systems, it is necessary to make statements about function, handling and integration in the helicopter at an early development stage. For this purpose usually prototypes are created, which manufacturing produce high costs due to need of toolings or milling programs.
To get an initial analysis of a component without high efforts and costs the 3D printing process will be used.
Comparable to the automotive sector helicopters are equipped with a windshield wiper. Therefore a concept for a new wiper system will be created. When designing the new system you need to pay attention to functionality, manufacturing, installation and maintenance.
In the development phase a 3D CAD model of the new windshield wiper has been created. This model has been dimensioned in the digital mockup of the helicopter and virtually tested for function and freedom of movement.
To validate the study of the digital component on the helicopter, the gear box, including the shafts and levers, has been manufactured with the 3D printing process quickly and inexpensively.
The possibility of reworking the manufactured parts allows the installation of threaded inserts, bushes and bearings and to assemble them to a functional module. Thus the interaction of the individual parts can be checked.
The produced prototype allows an evaluation of the installation, movement, accessibility, handling and maintainability. Avoiding conventional metal-cutting manufacturing processes enormous cost and time savings are possible. Further using this technology allows the presentation of new products to our customers at an early developmental stage.