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Sonaca and Sirris test additive manufacturing for the aviation industry

Sirris is taking part in Sonaca's Fasama project, which is co-financed by the Walloon Region as part of the Marshall Plan 4.0. The aim is to assess whether additive manufacturing technologies can produce metal parts suitable for the aviation industry, with optimal mass and functionality. In late 2015, the partners selected the appropriate technology and produced a number of test parts, primarily for aircraft wing anti-icing systems.
  • Can additive manufacturing be used to produce optimised parts for the aviation industry?
  • In 2015, with the help of Sirris and other partners, Sonaca produced a number of optimised parts using additive manufacturing.
  • The next stage of the project, which will run for three years, is to qualify these parts for use in the aviation industry.


Belgian group Sonaca develops, manufactures and assembles advanced structures for the civil and military aviation and aerospace markets. It is mainly known for its expertise in wing movables, in which it has over 50% of the market share. It employs more than 2,500 people worldwide.

“Additive manufacturing has long demonstrated that it can produce high-quality parts. But successfully producing parts qualified for the aviation and aerospace industries in a cost-effective way goes one step further – and an ambitious step at that!” 

Smarter production 

Sonaca currently uses traditional methods to manufacture parts and structures for aircraft and satellites, but these methods have their limitations: the titanium alloy used is difficult to process and assembling the components takes time and makes the structures heavier. Sonaca  therefore enlisted the help of a number of partners, including Sirris, to ascertain whether it could use additive manufacturing technologies to more easily produce and optimise complex parts.

Topological optimisation

Initial observations are promising. In late 2015, a metal part with a complex shape was produced. It is a T-shaped tubular structure that forms part of an aircraft wing anti-icing system. Two other partners – Samtech and GD Tech – will help Sonaca optimise the shape. The first version of the part was produced in Sirris’s installations, using an additive manufacturing technology called electron beam melting. 

Qualification for the aviation and aerospace industries

Het project zal nog The project will continue for three years and be extended to include other kinds of parts, which will also then be optimised. Much of the work will involve checking that the parts produced and optimised still meet all the requirements of the aviation and aerospace industries.