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3D printing, married to traditional metal casting, could reshape manufacturing

Autodesk has partnered with a Michigan foundry in a 3D printing proof-of-concept project that resulted in a new magnesium commercial airline seat frame so light it could save an airline more than $200 million in fuel costs.

Autodesk used its Netfabb 3D design software to produce a complex geometric model for a new aircraft passenger seat frame just as strong as a traditional seat, but vastly lighter.

The CAD program created a file used to 3D print in plastic the seat frame, which was then coated in ceramic material and heated to a high temperature to evaporate the inner plastic.

Autodesk

Autodesk researcher Andreas Bastian displays how lightweight the new seat frame is.

The remaining ceramic mold was then used by Aristo Cast, a Michigan foundry, to manufacture a magnesium seat frame that weighs 766 grams, 56% lighter than the conventional 1,672-gram aluminum seats in use today.

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