Air New Zealand uses 3D printers to make seat parts
Air New Zealand is producing 3D printed components for its business class cabins.
The airline has been working with the Auckland University of Technology to manufacture the fold down cocktail trays that form part of its business seats using 3D printing.
Air New Zealand chief operations officer Bruce Parton said aircraft interiors were made up of tens of thousands of parts, and 3D printing allowed the airline to quickly make its own lightweight parts cost-effectively.
"Not only can't we hold stock of every replacement part we might need, we often only require a small number of units which can be really expensive to produce using traditional manufacturing methods and can involve frustrating delays while a replacement part is delivered," Parton said.
Air New Zealand hopes to install the 3D printed cocktail trays on aircraft in the next few weeks, pending regulatory approval.
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Parton said Air New Zealand was exploring opportunities to introduce further 3D printed components.
"It seems the possibilities are limited only by our imagination."
Fellow New Zealand aviation company Rocket Lab uses 3D printers to produce the engine for its carbon-composite rocket, the Electron.
3D printers produced robust, high-quality parts made from titanium and alloys and reduced manufacturing time from months to days increasing affordability, Rocket Lab said.