Aerospace AMComposites

Ascent Aerospace buys LSAM composite 3D printer from Thermwood

It will be the first large format extrusion system used for aerospace tooling production

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Ascent Aerospace, a leading provider of aerospace tooling systems, factory automation and integration solutions, acquired a Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) machine from Thermwood Corporation, a technology leader and manufacturer of CNC and 3D printing equipment based in Dale, Indiana.

With a 10’ x 40’ fabrication area, Ascent’s LSAM machine will be the largest available in the aerospace market, allowing for both the printing and machining of a wide range of thermoplastic composite materials.

“Our investment in the LSAM represents the next milestone in Ascent’s multi-year technology roadmap and realization of expansive efforts studying the benefits of additive manufacturing within the aerospace tooling market,” commented Michael Mahfet, the CEO of Ascent Aerospace. “This capability positions us to remain the leader in new and innovative tooling solutions, supporting strong collaboration with our customers and supplementing our in-house, vertically integrated design and fabrication capabilities.”

Ascent Aerospace LSAM
An LSAM system in a 20ft configuration

The use of 3D printing in the aerospace tooling sector has continued to mature over the last several years and is accelerating in usage; with this, Ascent Aerospace plans to answer the industry’s call and take additive technology to a new level by leveraging its deep expertise in tooling to commercialize production ready additive solutions. As a new tooling option for its customers, Ascent intends to utilize the LSAM machine to bring tools such as layup molds, masters, trimming/drilling fixtures and vacuum holding fixtures to market faster than ever before. The LSAM machine will be co-located with Ascent’s composite tooling shop, autoclave and clean room in Santa Ana, California, and will allow Ascent to build targeted tools lighter and more efficiently, providing time and cost savings to its global customers.

The LSAM machine will have an industry-leading build area, providing aerospace customers the opportunity to benefit from large-scale printed composite tooling. By combining this technology with Ascent’s in-house tooling expertise and heritage engineering, it will be possible to fabricate and deliver fully functional select fixtures and molds with significantly reduced lead-times of a traditional metallic tool. The wide variety of materials that are compatible with the LSAM, such as ABS, Polycarbonate, Nylon, and PESU resins with reinforcing compounds, will further expand the selection of tooling solutions that Ascent will bring to the market.

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