BigRep, a provider of large-scale 3D printing (fused filament fabrication, FFF, segment) for industrial applications, unveiled two first fully 3D-printed aerospace seat systems with Dassault Systèmes at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg this week.

The prototypes, designed by NowLab, the BigRep innovation consultancy department, and manufactured on BigRep’s large-scale 3D printers, include the Retro Seat, an original airline seat that has been refurbished using additive manufacturing (AM), and the Aero Seat, a bionic passenger seat.

Both full-size seat systems were created using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DExperience platform and the industry solution experience Passenger Experience. Engineers leverage the 3DExperience platform to design and simulate highly optimized parts based on space allocation, loads, constraints, manufacturing processes, and multi material requirements and then use 3D printers to produce these optimized parts.

“Our Retro Seat saves 50% of weight, creating huge benefits for sustainable aircraft engineering and operational costs. Our prototypes demonstrate the massive benefits of 3D printing for both manufacturers and airlines,” said Daniel Büning, Co-Founder and Managing Director of NowLab at BigRep. “In addition, jigs, fixtures, and other cabin interior parts can be printed on site and on demand, and in cabin interior design, 3D printing will push the limits of engineering creativity. For designers, the 3DExperience platform will be a key tool in this process.”

“Our new 3D printer Pro offers an unprecedented level of precision, quality, and speed and enables us to use the high-performance, innovative printing materials the aviation industry requires: 3D printing is in the process of re-defining the aviation industry,” said BigRep CEO Stephan Beyer, PhD.

BigRep and Dassault Systèmes say they are showing how AM can be applied for any part of the cabin—from seat to armrest to sidewall panel—and how AM allows the design of individual end-use parts starting from lot size one to small series production.

The Retro Seat offers inductive charging that allows for wireless charging of smart phones. The back of the headrest is equipped with a “Bring your own device” outlet, allowing tablets or other devices to be hooked up, as well as multiple USB ports. Finally, the seat offers embedded blue LED light panels to create the right mood during night flights, while the arm rest is equipped with a smart cabinet solution to safely store laptops during takeoff and landing.

The company says its Aero Seat shell design has "an almost bionic touch, look, and feel, as the seat will adapt to the driver’s or passenger’s individual body shape." Using a 3D body scan prior to the seat production, the shell is designed to provide its users with an unprecedented level of comfort to reduce stress and physical discomfort during long trips. Flexible materials are being used for printing seat cushions (including the softness factor).

Both designs were specifically envisioned for large-format FFF technology. Both seats have a fully integrated design, and any bearings or electronics can be integrated during the printing process.