3-D printing in commercial aircraft engineering – a manufacturing revolution is taking off

(f.l.t.r.) Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Frank Herzog, Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Peter Sander, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Claus Emmelmann

Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Peter Sander (Spokesperson)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Claus Emmelmann*
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Frank Herzog**

Airbus Operations GmbH, Hamburg
*LZN Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH, Hamburg
**Concept Laser GmbH, Lichtenfels

Aircraft construction places high demands on design and manufacturing. The challenge is to manufacture sophisticated parts and components efficiently, affordably and as environmentally friendly as possible. How can it be done?

Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Peter Sander, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Claus Emmelmann and Dipl.-Ing. Frank Herzog have developed a process that is now ready to be employed to print three-dimensional metal parts. These parts are slated to be used for the first time in the Airbus A350. Peter Sander is head of the Emerging Technologies & Concepts division at Airbus, Claus Emmelmann is CEO of LZN Laser Zentrum Nord as well as head of the Institute of Laser and System Technologies (iLAS) at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Frank Herzog is Managing Director of Concept Laser in Lichtenfels.

3-D printing has been making headlines for several years. Unlike conventional methods of production, products are not stamped, sawn or cut out of a material block, rather a part is built layer by layer. This has numerous advantages: it uses less material and energy, which in turn protects resources and the climate. Designers also have greater freedom in part design. And, prototypes, single pieces, or small series of products can be manufactured with relative ease and inexpensively. However, to date only certain materials have been able to be used for additive manufacturing (AM), such as plastics or easy-to-melt alloys.

The three nominated scientists have discovered how to use 3-D printing to manufacture metal components subjected to high mechanical and thermal loading. The "LaserCUSING" process is also suitable for different types of steel, precious metals such as gold and silver alloys as well as metal alloys based on titanium. A high-energy fiber laser light melts the powdered metal. The material hardens as it cools. The laser under computer control scans the powered material line by line and creates the desired shape. To build the complete product, after every layer is applied, the laser moves down by several dozen micrometers and scans the next layer. A patented stochastic control system ensures that even large components like those used in aerospace construction can be printed largely without stresses.

The core of the innovation is the fully digital manufacturing process. In this process, the 3-D printer is integrated in a continuous digital process chain in which the individual steps of production including material logistics and quality assurance are automatic and coordinated. Experts refer to this revolutionary concept as Industry 4.0, and its development and implementation has been pushed by researchers and companies in Germany.

Airbus is using the process jointly developed with Laser Zentrum Nord and Concept Laser to manufacture a titanium alloy bracket. The bracket is used to attach the crew rest area onboard the new A350 XWB jetliner and has been in use since 2015 on the A350. LaserCUSING, as a 'green technology', reduces not only the ecological manufacturing footprint, but also shortens the aircraft's downtime during maintenance: Required spares can be printed on demand and on site. At Airbus plans are in the works to use 3-D printing to produce additional components in future - and to use the pioneering process to create innovative design elements: such as bionic parts modeled on nature.

The importance of 3-D printing of metal products extends to sectors beyond aircraft construction. The technology is expected to replace or complement conventional manufacturing methods in many industries such as vehicle construction, manufacturing and engineering which are so important to Germany. Experts anticipate that the market for 3-D printing will increase fivefold over the next few years.

The right to nominate outstanding achievements for the Deutscher Zukunftspreis is incumbent upon leading German institutions in science and industry as well as foundations.

The project "3-D printing in commercial aircraft engineering – a manufacturing revolution is taking off" was nominated by BDI - Federation of German Industries.


Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Peter Sander

Born in Munich
Mechanical Engineer Degree in Production Technology at University Bremen
Entry in today’s Airbus Operations GmbH, Hamburg
1981 - 1982
Assistant Production Manager
1983 - 1994
Specialist functions including management in the field of Industrial Engineering
1994 - 2000
Manager in the field of Tools, Design and Manufacturing
2000 - 2006
Manager of CFRP large parts production in Stade
2006 - 2007
Head of Parts Production in Bremen
2007 - 2009
Head of A380 Operations in Hamburg und Toulouse
Project Leader of Green Field Initiative
since 2010
Manager of Airbus Innovation Cell Germany,
today Head of Emerging Technology & Concepts Germany

Participation in professional societies and committees

since 2013
Member of the Scientific Advisory Board at the Fibre Institute Bremen, Prof. Axel Herrmann, University of Bremen
since 2014
Member of the Innovation Committee of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce
since 2014
Member of the expert group of the BDLI, Committee - Business and Law


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Claus Emmelmann

Born in Hannover
1980 - 1986
Studies of mechanical engineering at the Leibniz University of Hannover
1987 - 1988
PhD student at the Institute of Production Engineering and Machine Tools (IFW) at the Leibniz University of Hannover
1988 - 1991
Head of manufacturing technologies at Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V., Hannover
Graduation to Dr.-Ing. at the Leibniz University of Hannover, faculty Mechanical Engineering
1992 – 1995
Sales manager and product manager, product area solid state lasers, Rofin Sinar Laser GmbH, Hamburg
1995 – 1997
Export manager, exclusive USA and Japan, for CO², solid state and diode lasers, Rofin Sinar Laser GmbH
1997 - 1999
Assistant head of sales at Rofin Sinar Laser GmbH
1999 - 2001
Division manager solid state lasers at Rofin Sinar Laser GmbH
since 2001
C4-Professor at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) and
Head of institute of Laser and System Technologies
2001 - 2015
Dean of „Gewerblich-Technische Wissenschaften“ at TUHH,
member of research groups at TUHH: maritime systems, aviation, medical engineering
since 2009
CEO of Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH, Hamburg

Involvement in expert associations and committees

Board member of HansePhotonik e.V., optical technologies
Council member of NORTEC – fair for production in northern Germany
Member Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft Lasertechnik WLT e.V.


Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Frank Herzog

Born in Bamberg
1989 – 1992
as an industrial Mechanic for equipment and fine mechanics; Siemens Healthcare, Erlangen
1992 - 1994
College of Further Education, Bamberg
1994 – 1999
Studied engineering at the University of Applied Science and Arts Coburg;
Semester abroad with a scholarship at the University of Huddersfield
Final degree Dipl.-Ing. (FH)
since 2000
Foundation of the Concept Laser GmbH, Lichtenfels
President & CEO
Foundation of the Concept Laser, Inc., Grapevine, Texas, USA
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Member of the Evaluation Committee “Green Factory”


Bayern Best 50 für Concept Laser, Auszeichnung als inhabergeführtes Unternehmen für Umsatzwachstum und Schaffung von Arbeitsplätzen
European CEO Award - Best CEO in the Additive Manufacturing Industry




Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Peter Sander
Airbus Operations GmbH
Kreetslag 10
21129 Hamburg
Phone: + 49 (0) 40 / 74 35 22 97
E-Mail: peter.sander@airbus.com


Heiko Stolzke
Airbus Operations GmbH
Kreetslag 10
21129 Hamburg
Phone: +49 (0) 40 / 74 37 30 16
E-Mail: heiko.stolzke@airbus.com

Careen Bock
LZN Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH
Am Schleusengraben 14
21029 Hamburg
Phone: +49 (0) 40 / 48 40 10 500
E-Mail: careen.bock@lzn-hamburg.de

Dipl.-Kfm. Daniel Hund
Concept Laser GmbH
An der Zeil 8
96215 Lichtenfels
Phone: +49 (0) 9571 / 16 79 251
E-Mail: d.hund@concept-laser.de

Cookies facilitate the provision of our content. By using our website you agree that we use cookies. Learn more
Ok to continue