Stratasys, a 3-D printing and additive manufacturing solutions company, announced that Eviation Aircraft, an Israeli manufacturer of all-electric air mobility solutions, is using Stratasys 3-D printing to develop one of the world’s first all-electric commuter aircraft. Stratasys believes its 3-D printing solutions give Eviation a leg up in the race to develop hybrid-electric commercial aircraft.
“In the next four years, Eviation aims to make regional air travel a cost-effective and clean option that rivals any existing form of transit today,” says Eviation founder and CEO, Omer Bar-Yohay. “With people working and commuting across greater distances than ever before, we believe the solution will bring mid-range cities like Seoul and Beijing, or London and Paris, closer together through all-electric air travel.”
According to Stratsys, Eviation took a “start from scratch,” holistic approach to the engineering of its electric commuter aircraft. The entire development process – including aerodynamic testing and the propulsion system – was designed to maximize the efficiency of electric flight. Stratasys says 3-D printing enabled the company to test many of its designs long before it needed to invest in actual certifiable parts, resulting in accelerated processes and more innovative designs, as well as significantly reduced engineering costs.
“Our ability to create new iterations of designs with 3-D printing and see how they perform in real-time is helping us reduce critical capital costs, even as we accelerate our rapid prototyping phase,” explains Bar-Yohay. “The kind of highly iterative, in-house manufacturing process that Stratasys 3D printing has refined is crucial to the life of a company in the constantly changing, and highly competitive, transportation space.”
For example, Eviation 3-D printed its wing-tip motors in a matter of hours, enabling swifter design and functional evaluation, while waiting for the final motors to be shipped. Another key aspect of Eviation’s design is its ability to reduce interference drag on the exterior of the aircraft by employing smooth, curved surfaces. Eviation was able to create the required strong, geometrically complex, lightweight parts to support these surfaces by 3-D printing a composite lay-up tool in ULTEM 1010 material, which was then covered with carbon fiber.
“All in all, in two years of operation we have saved several hundreds of thousands of dollars with Stratasys 3D printing and I would estimate six months or more of workforce hours, which made this project possible,” adds Bar-Yohay. “Today we are using the technology for prototyping test parts and tooling; the ability to produce lightweight parts in complex geometries will also enable us to explore the possibility of 3D printing parts for the final aircraft.”