Here’s how 3D scanning is taking Aerospace Engineering to new heights!

To understand the importance of 3D scanning in the aerospace industry, this case study of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) is a great place to start.

The RMAF was facing issues in terms of ensuring the structural integrity of its fighter aircraft fleet which has been in operation for more than a decade. That’s when RMAF decided to give 3D scanning a shot for inspection, maintenance, and repair procedures. And it completely transformed their maintenance of the aging aircraft fleet because now they could tell exactly what was wrong and what was needed to fix it. Not just that, 3D scanning helped with reverse engineering and re-fabricating broken components, which were not available in the market anymore. In short, it helped keep the RMAF fleet airworthy.

As it did with the RMAF, 3D scanning is causing transformative strides within the aerospace industry.

What is 3D scanning?

3D laser scanning, a non-destructive and non-contact technique that uses a line of laser light to digitally record the geometry of actual items, is a gamechanger in the aerospace industry.

How does it work?

3D laser scanners generate ‘clouds’ of data from millions of points on the surface of an object and accurately capture the size and shape of a physical object. This can then be transferred to a computer as a three-dimensional digital representation.

But why is 3D Scanning so important in the aerospace industry?

1. It’s quick and versatile

3D scanning can be used for a variety of tasks such as reverse engineering, quality control, maintenance, and surveying. It can be used to create prototypes and replicate components. The process of 3D scanning is so streamlined that scans can be completed in hours even and the data is used to manufacture a precise replacement part, minimising aircraft downtime.

2. It’s error-free

In aerospace engineering, accuracy is vital, and traditional design methods rely on two-dimensional drawings and manual measurements, which can be prone to errors. Three-dimensional scanning technology offers a more accurate alternative as it generates an exact virtual replica of the part or machine. There’s also that additional advantage of using 3D scanning and that is it allows manufacturers to seamlessly integrate with 3D printing to create parts, reducing material waste and production lead times.

3. It helps with maintenance, repair, and overhaul

Advanced 3D scanning systems can accurately capture and generate large components of aircraft such as wings, without having to remove them. This helps with tasks like damage analysis and restoration without keeping the aircraft out of the air for too long. Flaps and spoilers for example are crucial to an aircraft. The inability to extend wing flaps for example will necessitate a no-flap landing, which sometimes increases the required landing distance by 50%! Manual inspection of flaps is a time-consuming process. For example, without 3D scanners, engineers will have to search and find dents to understand what went wrong. But with 3D scanning, engineers can assess the feasibility of repairs or additional components before carrying out the physical repairs.

4. It helps engineers diagnose problems

Why did an aircraft have a hard landing? Was there damage to the surface? 3D scanning can help teams come up with a solution by extracting existing components from operational aircraft and analysing what went wrong in the working. A simple and fast 3D scan can tell maintenance engineers whether there is interior stringer blade damage or a lost bonded repair patch.

5. It enables quick damage inspection

When an aircraft hits a hailstorm, for example, lots of things can go wrong from a rotor disk cut through the fuselage or severe rudder damage and requiring specialised inspection. Advanced 3D scanning can digitise the area and assess the damage and the extent of defects in a short span of time.

Whatever data you consider, 3D scanning has transformed the aerospace industry, steering advancements in design, manufacturing, and maintenance by streamlining processes and reducing errors. Allow 3D scanning to revolutionise the way you do business too. Blue Star E&E has a wide range of highly accurate industrial 3D scanners that help you gain a competitive edge in the way you engineer your flight.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.