3D printing conquers the world and serves not just as a popular toy or a good manual, but as a technology designed for vital applications. More than a year ago, in November 2016 TechnoSpark signed an agreement with Concept Laser (Germany), one of the world’s leading companies in metal powder additive printing machines. The Nanotechnology Center is equipped with modern 3D printers, such as Concept Laser M2, and some examples of these systems can live, run and even bark.
A family pet suffered from a tumour which required a surgical intervention. As a result, the Nanotechnology Center printed a customized titanium prosthesis for the pet’s paw. And now this dog loves to run again and makes its masters happy. TEN.MedPrint specializes in the additive manufacturing of endoprostheses and implants according to veterinarians’ requirements. That’s what we have with animals. But when we deal with human beings, we have to acquire necessary certificates and conformity declarations. According to our plans, all these documents will be prepared in April. In October 2017, TEN.MedPrint and its activities were evaluated within the Moscow forum 3D Print Awards 2017 where the company was recognized as the best innovative company of the year. On January 11, it signed a joint development agreement (additive technologies) with the Russian Ilizarov Scientific Center for Restorative Traumatology and Orthopaedics, one of Russia’s leading medical institutions.
In a word, we have a lot to do, but TechnoSpark’s medical plans are not everything. There are also other spheres where it is sometimes necessary to print only one unique component, but a difficult one. For example, aircrafts. On March 6, the Nanotechnology Center (Troitsk) became a meeting place for 3D printing specialists from the TechnoSpark Additive Business Group and representatives of S7 Technics and NISSA Digispace. “Today we’re holding this technological workshop. Together we want to find an opportunity of using additive technologies in business activities”, says Oleg Lysak, the LVM AT Director General.
There are some foreign examples: the Lufthansa Technik subdivision (Germany) maintains equipment units from different manufacturers and cooperates with several air carriers. The company gained advantages in speed and price because it actively uses additive technologies in repairs and spare parts manufacturing. General Electric that makes engines for Boeing and Airbus also prints parts and components directly at maintenance sites. 12 months ago, GE Additive, a General Electric subdivision, acquired the Concept Laser company and, therefore, TechnoSpark became a partner of the American multinational conglomerate.
Five Hours or Six Months
“We have some ideas about joint projects”, says Timur Tyncherov, the S7 Technics Planning Director. “Our company is engaged in maintaining aircrafts, including foreign ones. Punctual and fast deliveries of spare parts for foreign aircrafts are a very important issue for us. We have to order spare parts from abroad. One of our main problems consists in cabins. A cabin is a company’s image, and it’s very important to always keep it new, fresh and free of defects. I see that we can effectively manufacture spare parts here. It’s much closer to carry them from Troitsk to Vnukovo, Domodedovo, and Sheremetyevo, than from Frankfurt. To order a part and get it within five hours is a very promising idea. That’s why we’re here.”
An ordinary passenger table is an example of such always sought-after parts. “It is regularly used for food, but sometimes it happens that they break it. And, as you know, it takes several months to deliver a small table to Russia. Different aircrafts are equipped with different tables. To replace the latter, one needs to have a warehouse reserve stock available when necessary, and this requires a lot of money. If we have an opportunity of making at least plastic parts here, it will be a great breakthrough.”
This type of production can be organized within short terms. But there are some other more difficult tasks. “Everything that affects flight worthiness requires very serious certification and verification. We need strong engineering, we need tests and trials. But it takes a lot of time. And now it’s too early to discuss this subject,” says Tyncherov.
Meanwhile, TechnoSpark has some further plans: entering other markets (for example, the oil and gas market), acquiring professional printers from the Stratasys company (a partner of the Nanotechnology Center) and contract manufacturing of plastic products based on FDM and PolyJet technologies. “We’re planning to create a big manufacturing fab focused on both medical and non-medical sectors,” explains Oleg Lysak. “We see that a demand for contract models already exceeds the potential of the existing infrastructure.”