3D Printing Takes Flight

Coming from a family of fliers, James Neils of Ventry Solutions Inc., likes to go places. Neils has enjoyed flying for more than 20 years. His vehicle of choice is his family’s Ogar glider.

Now more than 40 years old, a piece of Ogar’s landing gear finally gave out. Only 65 Ogar gliders were made and replacement parts do not exist.

“They built those gliders one at a time and the parts don’t go back and forth,” Neils said.

Neils considered making the part himself until he met Quest engineers at our annual fall Launch Event. He became very excited with the possibility of 3D printing the part.

We were able to design to his parameters and get him back in the air, integrating SOLIDWORKS and our Markforged X7 printer. We optimized the part’s geometry for weight using topological studies, then added carbon fiber reinforcement for maximum strength.

“I started looking at the material properties,” Neils said, “Weighs less. Twice as strong. I said, ‘Let’s print it!’”

“That’s a big advantage of 3D printing this [part], too.” Quest Sr. Application Engineer, Brandon Adkins added. “It’s light. In the air, every ounce matters.”

The outlook is promising, as the part has been installed for several months. Neils says he is putting the part to the ultimate test this winter by leaving the tail down in storage.

“The stress loads most occur when [the glider]’s just sitting there,” Neils said, “when it’s up in the air, there is no load.”

Neils says this experience has opened his eyes to more improvements he can make to his glider with additive manufacturing and our Quest engineers.

You can read our Why 3D Printing series to learn more about the advantages of 3D printing or give us a call today at 800-370-3750.