The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by modernization imperatives, industrial automation, platform digitization, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), alternative propulsion solutions, materials science and additive manufacturing. In the last three years alone, there have been over 237,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defense industry, according to GlobalData’s report on 3D printing in defense: turbine 3D printing. Buy the report here.
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 206,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the aerospace and defense industry, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Turbine 3D printing is a key innovation area in 3D printing
3D printing or additive manufacturing is the process whereby three-dimensional products can be produced through the iterative layering of precursor materials using a specialized printer. This process has been leveraged across numerous industries to streamline manufacturing processes through greater efficiency, precision and cost-reduction. Due to these inherent benefits, 3D printing practices are being increasingly used in the aerospace domain to manufacture specialized and unique components such as those used in the development of engine turbines.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of turbine 3D printing.
Key players in turbine 3D printing – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defense industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to turbine 3D printing
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
RTX (formerly Raytheon Technologies) is the leading patent filer in the 3D printed turbine components space, due to the company’s widespread integration of 3D printing capabilities within its supply chain and particularly its subsidiary Pratt & Whitney, which specializes in the manufacture of aircraft engines. Patents have included 3D printed designs of turbine inlets, airfoils, shafts and engine covers, amongst other things.
In terms of application diversity, Howmet Aerospace leads the pack, while RTX and Reaction Engines stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographical reach, Howmet Aerospace leads the pack, followed by Safran and RTX.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on 3D Printing in Aerospace and Defense.