Manufacturing for the aerospace industry faced roadblocks in 2019, which slowed the speed of innovation. This article looks at the three biggest challenges engineers in the aerospace industry faced in 2019 and anticipated solutions in 2020.

Challenges in Aerospace Innovation in 2019 and Solutions for 2020
Challenges in Aerospace Innovation in 2019 and Solutions for 2020

Katie Bisson | Xometry

Challenge 1: Capacity Issues

One of the biggest challenges that face aerospace engineers is limited capacity. Aerospace traditionally relies on subtractive manufacturing processes like CNC machining and sheet metal fabrication and, in some cases, injection molding. This industry relies heavily on local manufacturing facilities who are familiar with industry standards and with which they have built lifelong relationships. As aerospace companies scale, engineers often find themselves fighting for local shop capacity, and in turn, increasing the cost as demand increases. These capacity challenges cause delays and increase cost.


2020 Solution to Capacity Challenges

In 2020, these capacity challenges will change as aerospace companies adopt two main ideas: additive manufacturing as a production method and using manufacturing marketplace services. Aerospace has recently invested heavily in hiring additive manufacturing engineers and working to build solutions using 3D printing processes like direct metal laser sintering. Additionally, companies that diversify their supply chains with new manufacturing shops can augment innovation and decrease costs.

In response to capacity challenges found with local manufacturers, more of the top aerospace companies use vetted and qualified manufacturing marketplaces like Xometry. Xometry’s Partner Network provides elastic capacity for sudden, high-volume jobs while consolidating to a single-source vendor.


Challenge 2: Certification Requirements

The second challenge aerospace companies faced in 2019 was sourcing manufacturing shops that were able to meet the lengthy list of certifications and requirements for the aerospace industry. The industry is limited to specific manufacturers because these vendors often must be ITAR registered, AS9100 certified, and in many cases, able to provide material certifications. Not all manufacturers have the financial capacity or desire to gain these requirements, which shrinks the supplier network.


Editors Recommendation "How Humans & Tech Harmonize in the Manufacturing Industry"


2020 Solution for Certification Needs

In 2020, the aerospace industry’s certification requirements will remain the same. Aerospace companies will still require manufacturers to be AS9100 certified and ITAR registered. For flight-critical components, material certifications will also be a requirement. As more industries implement more requirements—including healthcare—manufacturers will be responsible for getting the certifications to remain competitive. This will bring a necessary industry shift as innovation continues.

Xometry’s online distributed manufacturing service provides greater open capacity with certified shops across the US. Xometry’s Partner quality assurance program also works with qualified manufacturers to elevate their certifications, including ITAR, to grow the available market.


Challenge 3: Material Requirements and Shortage

The aerospace industry designs parts for very high-heat situations—since some of the parts are flight-critical components—that require very specific materials. Magnesium, superalloys, and high-performance plastics like Ultem are common examples. Manufacturing with these materials requires extensive machining experience. Not only does this limit the availability of capable manufacturers, but the material supply often takes longer to procure.


2020 Solution to Low Material Supply

The aerospace industry will always have very specific material requirements, especially for flight-critical components. The materials need to handle lots of pressure and heat, and each has a unique function. As new manufacturing processes are developed, the list of qualified materials will expand. This will allow the aerospace industry to diversify the materials based on parts needs instead of relying on expensive and hard-to-manufacture materials.

Manufacturing platforms like Xometry build in market considerations like supply and manufacturing skill for specialized materials, helping to provide better quotes and expectations upfront on lead time and cost.


To Innovation and Beyond

With aggressive growth in the aerospace sector, including new space systems and increased innovation from top-tier companies, 2019 posed many challenges. 2020, on the other hand, is looking up for aerospace companies. New manufacturing process adoption and the steady increase in certified manufacturing shops will address many of the delays the industry faced this year.

With the use of marketplaces like Xometry, aerospace sector leaders can leverage a supply-chain-in-a-box solution while also empowering hundreds of capable, small business manufacturers with qualified work.


If you like this article you may like "Advanced Metrology Tools Enable Reliable Engine Light-Weighting"

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow


Our instant quoting platform and nationwide network of machine shops is transforming American manufacturing. We make it easy for all customers - from startups to Fortune 500 companies - to access manufacturing on demand by providing the most efficient way to source high-quality parts.

Other Articles

When Should You Use 3D Printing for Production?
There are many reasons why 3D printing may be suitable for your hardware design and development cycle. But what about using 3D printing for full-scale production? Here are some considerations when deciding whether to use 3D printing for high-volume, end-use custom parts.
Case Study: Phase Four Launches Scalable Electric Propulsion (EP) System with Xometry
This innovative California-based aerospace company is revolutionizing space exploration with Maxwell, its mass-producible EP system. Xometry is the manufacturing platform that’s bringing its exoskeleton from its 12-page drawing to life.
Case Study: BMW Uses Xometry’s Range of Technologies to Make Custom Assembly Tooling
BMW tooling engineers can use Xometry’s CNC machining, 3D printing, and urethane casting for custom assembly fixtures, which allows the company to put the finishing touches on its vehicles quickly and cost-effectively.
More about Xometry

Comments (0)

This post does not have any comments. Be the first to leave a comment below.

Post A Comment

You must be logged in before you can post a comment. Login now.

Featured Product

Safety Air Guns – Large Selection

Safety Air Guns - Large Selection

Safety Air Guns use engineered air nozzles for high performance, entraining lg volumes of surrounding air. Safe operation, low air consumption and noise levels. Check out VariBlast Compact, VariBlast Precision, Soft Grip, Heavy Duty and more. https://184_sagpromo_prod