Case study: Van's Aircraft
High Performance Polymer Replaces Machined Parts Saving Time & Money
“3D printing has become an integral and critical component of our aircraft development programs, saving time and money.”
- Rian Johnson Vice President / Chief Engineer, Van’s Aircraft, Inc.
Van’s Aircraft is the worldwide leader in the metal aircraft kit business with more than 10,800 customer airplanes flying today. Customer completions and first flights average 1.5 aircraft per day globally. A key to their success and leadership is superior engineering and manufacturing with a focus on flight safety, ease of construction and remarkable performance. 3D printing at Van’s enables: 1) Quick turn prototypes of new part designs without the need to consume manufacturing NRE* and machining time, 2) Soft tooling that supports short production runs and customization, and 3) Fast cost-effective production of jigs and fixtures to ensure Van’s requirements for quality control.
*non-recurring engineering costs
Rian Johnson, Van’s VP & Chief Engineer explains, “Gascolators separate water and debris from the fuel before passing the fuel on towards the engine. The previous design exhibited a flow issue that rapidly caused debris to collect only near the outlet causing a drop in fuel pressure and frequent maintenance. Testing a new design would have required us to program, then take one of our production milling machines off-line. Thanks to Plural and the 3ntr A2 we were able to quickly obtain quality prototype fuel resistant parts to test flow through. Our new design’s flow was evenly distributed across the entire filter. Problem solved.”
How Plural Helped
Plural’s solution was to print the two-part assembly using an advanced polymer called nPOWER (a custom PPS* blend from 3ntr) which exhibits extremely high resistance to a wide range of fuels and solvents, as well as very high temperatures. 3D printing has become a key tool at Van’s Aircraft, Inc., allowing them to continue to develop fast build, fast flying aircraft kits that are recognized as the standard by which others are judged.
Find out how Plural’s 3ntr industrial 3D printers and advanced 3D printing polymers can help your company fly higher, faster and farther.
*Polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) is a semi crystalline, high temperature engineering thermoplastic.