Thanks to advances in additive manufacturing (AM), many parts on our E2s now weigh up to 40% less. The process, in which 3D design data is used to program sophisticated printers, applies layers of material to create lighter and more sustainable parts. We use AM to build plastic parts found in the interiors of our E-Jets E2s.
Thermoplastic AM was employed at the beginning of the E2 program. It replaced the time-consuming and manual process in which parts and tooling were hand lay-up and machined, respectively. Today, those same parts take 50% less lead time to produce, generate 65% less waste, and avoid volatile organic compounds contact to employees. The result is a better, lighter, more sustainable part that costs less and requires less time to manufacture.
AM is used to build 37 interior part numbers on the E2s. These include air conditioning grills, harness protection units, suction toilet flanges, and air ducts, as well as tooling items and jigs. We use AM to test proof-of-concept parts from cup holder assemblies to wing leading edges.
Last year, we produced more than 1,800 pieces by AM for the E2 program. Our engineers are already working to create metal parts through the AM process. Their studies have identified some impressive metal aircraft components where AM can generate similar time, weight, cost, and environmental savings as thermoplastic material. In fact, the benefits could be even greater.
The AM’s potential applications are enormous. Embraer is currently evaluating its effectiveness on a wide range of items – airframe; hydraulic, electrical and air conditioning systems; landing gear; interior; functional prototype and tooling, just to name a few.
Additive manufacturing is just one more tool that helps us make our E2s the most environmentally-responsible airplanes on the market.