There have already been 3D printed parts in an airplane but passenger will soon be able the printed parts in the cabin of the airplane. More and more parts will be 3D printed as the printed parts will save on weight and can be printed rapidly.
Parts that are already printed are the air ducts and cable harnesses. These parts are not visible to passengers. The next things to be printed are;
1. The entertainment system,
3. The fold-down tables and,
4. Spacer panel along the overhead storage compartments.
Since 3D has not geometric restrictions it makes for smarter components. When making tools printing versus conventional metal the printed parts can be printed immediately making for huge savings in time. It will cut months off of the manufacturing time.
The first plane to receive structural titanium parts that are 3D printed is the Dreamliner 787. This plane will fly with 3D parts that make up the load bearing structure. This process will save on manufacturing costs.
In order to keep airplanes flying manufacturing, time needs to be as fast as possible. Not only fast but cost efficient as well. While 2D may cause some of the parts to be adapted or redesigned it will save time and money, it makes for a smarter solution.
Airbus was one of the first to use the 3D printed parts starting back in 2015. It used more than one thousand printed parts on the A350 XWB airplane. Airbus has filed for a patent where an entire airplane can be printed using the 3D printing process.
While Airbus has been using the printed parts it is just now printing parts that passenger can see. The first part for passengers to see is the space panel.
One of the problems which occur when placing new parts in the plane are gaps between the old and the new parts. Using the 3D printing process will eliminate this problem.
Using 3D printing when creating bioinspired panels they are fifteen percent lighter. Internal support structures can be created without any additional production costs. Small batches can be created quickly that are just as strong as traditional parts. It is also less expensive. It puts the plane back into business with less downtime needed thus creating more revenue for the aircraft.