[INTERVIEW] Scott Sevcik, AM Craft: Unlocking Tremendous Opportunities in Additive Manufacturing

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“AM Craft’s focus is aviation as a service bureau,” explains Scott Sevcik, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at AM Craft. Sevcik’s background includes a degree in aerospace engineering and a decade at Lockheed Martin before transitioning to Stratasys. There, he was pivotal in their verticalization strategy, aligning additive manufacturing solutions with demanding industries, including aerospace. His journey with AM Craft began as an advisor, stemming from a relationship established when AM Craft’s founders, were Stratasys resellers in the Baltic region.

Spearheading efforts from Minneapolis for the Riga-headquartered company, Sevcik is focused on a global strategy. AM Craft addresses the specific needs of airlines and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) operators by leveraging additive manufacturing (AM) to streamline supply chains and provide quick, low-volume parts production.

AM Craft’s business model involves obtaining aviation supplier certifications, allowing airlines and MROs to purchase parts without the burden of manufacturing and certification processes. This strategy taps into a market with significant pent-up demand for the benefits of additive manufacturing, such as cost-efficiency and rapid part availability.

Sevcik noted that the company is ramping up, recently announcing a fundraising round they completed late last year. “This opportunity is trying to do everything we did at Stratasys to advance FDM to make it more manufacturing relevant,” he remarked, illustrating how AM Craft is poised to bridge gaps that traditional additive manufacturing approaches have struggled to address.

Learn more about the Additive Manufacturing Advantage: Aerospace, Space & Defense, at our free online event on July 16th.

Harnessing the potential of additive manufacturing in the aerospace industry

The aerospace industry is on the brink of a significant expansion in the use of additive manufacturing, at least that is how it appears to a number of those interviewed in our series looking at 3D printing in Aerospace, Space, and Defense. Sevcik reflects on the sector’s evolution: “We’re 10 years into that overnight success,” he remarked, underscoring the extensive groundwork that has brought the industry to its current state. Might this be called a tipping point? Despite early skepticism, strides in certification and process development are setting the stage for broader adoption.

Sevcik emphasizes that the maturation of AM technology, particularly within aviation, has required patience. Early guidance from industry giants like Boeing in the 2000s laid the foundation for the technological advancements and material developments necessary for AM to achieve its current status. “It took a number of phases of establishing the groundwork, industrializing or maturing those technologies to a level of repeatability that’s appropriate,” he explained.

A key driver in this adoption is the integration of AM into existing supply chains, especially as companies seek solutions to pandemic-induced disruptions, and supply chains receive increased attention in terms of national security. “We are absolutely benefiting from several years of kind of nightmarish supply chain disruptions,” Sevcik noted.

The industry’s narrative has also shifted, moving away from the rhetoric of disruption towards integration. The hyperbolic term disruption, itself often a long-derided misuse of disruptive innovation, has long fallen by the wayside. “No one in an aviation supply chain wants disruption,” says Sevcik. Instead, AM is now seen as a way to enhance supply chains by filling gaps rather than replacing existing structures.

Looking ahead, Sevcik highlights that aircraft interior components remain a focal point. Stratasys’ work with Airbus on behind-the-wall components has now expanded to more visible, cosmetic parts within cabins. “We still see a tremendous opportunity for growth within the cabin,” he asserted, noting the potential for millions more printed parts.

Advancements in materials are also propelling the industry forward. Stratasys’ release of Antero, a PEKK-based material suitable for exposure to oils and fuels, exemplifies the expansion into semi-critical parts outside the cabin. Sevcik is equally excited about other AM technologies, such as DLP and sustainable powder bed materials like Nylon 11. “There’s going to be more opportunity that fits well with the need for sustainability overall within the aerospace industry,” he concluded.

The progression of additive manufacturing in aerospace: lessons from composites

The adoption of additive manufacturing in aerospace is gradually evolving, with parallels drawn to the trajectory of composite materials in previous decades. Sevcik compared the progression of AM to composites, noting that the initial introduction of composites in the A380, in service 2007, saw 10% integration, which surged to over 50% in later models like the Boeing 787, 2011, and Airbus A350, 2015. “We’re now no longer talking about one part two-part scenarios, but hundreds of parts going into every aircraft,” Sevcik explained, indicating the potential for AM growth.

Currently, AM usage in aerospace is minimal, likely less than 1% of aircraft components. However, this figure is expected to rise initially into single digits in the next few years and potentially double digits by the decade’s end. A significant driver is the retrofit market, where aircraft undergo complete cabin refurbishments every six to seven years. The A350, where manufacturing began in 2010, is now entering its retrofit phase, creating substantial opportunities for AM.

“Additive manufacturing is perfectly suited to solve problems such as supply chain disruptions and the need for small quantities of unique parts,” Sevcik noted. The retrofit market highlights AM’s advantages, including rapid production and customization. Furthermore, successful integration in retrofits can influence original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to incorporate AM parts from the outset in future aircraft designs.

The regulatory landscape remains challenging. AM Craft’s recent Part 21G certification from the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) exemplifies the rigorous process involved. “It requires a relationship and working closely with an airworthiness authority,” Sevcik said, emphasizing the importance of patience and diligence in meeting industry standards. This certification process, which took about a year, involved extensive documentation and process audits to ensure compliance and build trust.

Ensuring repeatability and traceability in AM parts is critical. Sevcik highlighted that AM Craft leverages Stratasys technology, which provides the necessary certification and process documentation. “We were able to leverage everything done at the OEM to show those boxes can be checked,” he stated. The company aims to expand its technology portfolio as other OEMs demonstrate the maturity and capability of their processes.

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