By Scott Cost, Director SLS Product Management
In my previous blog, we covered our materials development for aluminum-filled plastic parts used for knobs, handles, certain automotive parts and consumer electronics, as well as true black-colored production-grade parts that require minimal post-processing.
The toughest material to develop, in my view, was DuraForm FR1200 that we produced for Emirates Airlines. This required the full process of certification. In aerospace, materials that are flame retardant are essential, and each airline follows rigorous certification processes for any part that is fitted within an airplane. So, to be certified for aircraft interiors, DuraForm FR1200 was subjected to tests that included durability and impact resistance, but also more in-depth certifications to ensure that the parts are flame retardant. DuraForm FR1200 is FAR 25.853 compliant, which is the flame retardant standard for aerospace. It also passes AITM smoke density and toxicity requirements and has a UL certification for consumer goods. Furthermore, Emirates has a Form 1 certification validating that the seatback part design for which DuraForm FR1200 was used is approved for aircraft use. This testing protocol led to DuraForm FR1200 being certified by Emirates, as announced recently at the Dubai Air Show.
The entire process of certification took almost 12 months, and each certification has to be approved by a different governing body. As with our other materials, thousands of test parts were built to ensure a consistent quality and flame retardancy. Each build produced dozens of parts and had to have a 100% adherence to the FAR and AITM specifications. If a part failed, the settings had to be reconfigured and the consistency of powder was re-evaluated until each batch passed.
The Form 1 certification process is quite arduous as well. The Form 1 certification has to be completed on a part-by-part basis, a process that can take 6 months for each part to be approved. 3D Systems’ attention to testing and validating each of our materials is essential to delivering quality materials for each and every part, spanning the wide variety of geometries and applications for which additive manufacturing is used. Without tightly monitored testing, the certification process could take two years or longer to complete.
Engineers are constantly looking for improvements and iteration to achieve better results and respond to ever changing requirements. This is why we have spent the last two years developing new materials, designed to satisfy our customers’ demands for elongation, flexibility, impact strength, rigidity, temperature resistance or flame retardancy. We have done the hard work for you. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, get in touch – we are here to support.