From Multiple to Singular – Consolidating Parts with Additive Manufacturing


Aya Bentur  

Airbus 3D Printed Bionic Partition - CloseUp - APWORKS

One of the advantages of Additive Manufacturing is that it enables the redesign of a product or sub assembly in a way which significantly reduces the number of components it is made of. A complex product traditionally manufactured as an assembly of hundreds of parts can be consolidated into an assembly requiring only a handful of parts. Fewer parts mean less work done on each part, less time and less labor – reducing the costs of production. Moreover “Reducing the number of parts in an assembly immediately cuts the overhead associated with documentation, inspection and production planning, and control” states the Wohlers report for 2017. Here are 4 examples of companies applying consolidation to their products.

GE and the Turboprop

After the famous fuel nozzle, additively manufactured as 1 part instead of an assembly of 18 partsGE developed the Advanced Turboprop engine, consolidating 855 parts into 12 additively manufactured parts. The bearing and sump assemblies were reduced from 80 parts to 1. Textron Aviation has chosen the engine to power it’s new Cessna Denali aircraft, planned to run for the first time this year. GE did not only make the production more efficient, the newly designed engine also reduces fuel consumption by 20%.
GE 3D Printed Turboprop Engine

GE 3D Printed Turboprop Engine

Airbus’s Racks and Partitions

Traditional Version of the Airbus Tank Housing had to be Assembled from 126 parts Photo AIRBUS

Airbus 3D printed a hydraulic housing tank in one piece (below, Photo: Hermann Jansen) instead of their traditionally manufactured part composed of 126 components (above), not only cutting the process of complex assemblies but also reducing the use of materials and tooling required to produce each single part.

Airbus Housing for a Hydraulics Tank Made in One Piece with 3D Metal Printing PHOTO Hermann Jansen

The company also collaborated with AutoDesk on a ‘Bionic Partition for aircraft (below and detail of parts coming out of 3D printer up top). The production of the partition with AM reduces weight by approximately 45% while maximizing the efficiency of the panels in use and production.

Airbus 3D Printed Bionic Partition Full Size

CEEE, Quickparts and the Heat-Exchanger

The University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Energy Engineering (CEEE) worked with 3D Systems Quickparts service on an optimized heat-exchanger to be produced as an additively manufacturing single part. “With conventional manufacturing technologies, assembly by brazing extremely thin tubes to a manifold is a painstaking operation with very low reliability when it comes to leakages under high-pressure conditions, With DMP technology, no assembly is required since the part is produced in one continuous operation, no matter how complex the parts or how delicate the features,”  says Vikrant Aute, director of CEEE’s Modeling and Optimization Consortium.

CEEE and Quickparts Heat-Exchange - Traditionally Manufactured VS 3D Printed

Citim in a Single Piece

Back in TCT 2015, Citim exhibited a large scale 3D printed aluminum part, showing the capabilities of AM in creating a single piece component instead of complex assemblies that could not be produced by traditional manufacturing technologies.

Citim at TCT 2015 3D Printing Consolidating Parts


We’d love to hear your thoughts impressions and experiences with consolidated parts, share your comments and suggestions below. For more inspiration and information follow us on Pinterest or subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates.

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