Supplying production parts to ACI for aircraft refurbishment is not easy when they only have weeks to design, test and manufacture. These guys need rapid tooling! At Proto Labs, they provide design feedback in an interactive online quote then deliver parts, fast – all from your 3D CAD model.
Like most companies, airlines strive to offer a better service with less capital equipment and less overall investment. When these time-pressed aircraft are grounded for annual overhauls for just one or two weeks at a time, refit companies have to respond quickly to ensure they return to service without delay.
"Our customers are very demanding. They send us their statement of requirements or aircraft interior parts and we design, reverse engineer or re-make before the aircraft flies again. This may be a matter of days."
For years ACI has used in-house FDM (fused-deposit-modelling) capabilities to create design prototypes before committing to produce steel tooling and final injection-moulded parts. "Initially, we were looking for a company that could produce larger prototype models than we could. We were delighted on discovering as well as making prototype injection-moulded parts, Proto Labs could also deliver short production runs."
At the time, ACI was working on a project for large injection-moulded parts for the RAF. "Steel tooling for this one small project would have cost over £200,000 with finished parts taking 12-16 weeks. Proto Labs said we could have a finished, injection-moulded part in the same material without compromising performance, in one, three, five or 15 business days!"
ACI's reputation within the aviation industry is built on several attributes including its ability to rapidly supply of interior components. "Using Protomold has allowed us to shorten the lead-time for a new part by several weeks. That's good for us and very good news for them."
Author: Proto Labs