miniFactory and NLR aiming to the sky

miniFactory and NLR (Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre) have signed a collaboration agreement to provide recognition of the certification process for aerospace industry parts manufactured using the FFF 3D printing technology.

The project is focused on printed carbon fiber reinforced high-performance polymers and metal-filled polymers. The study will be using miniFactory’s ULTRA 3D printer together with the Aarni process monitoring system.


The aviation and aerospace industry have been the greatest accelerating force behind 3D printing technology, for manufacturing end-use parts as well as prototypes. These industries are looking for solutions whereby the weight of the parts could be decreased without sacrificing their strength. Lighter parts translate to reduced fuel consumption, which is one of the key areas of development in aviation. Furthermore, 3D printing enables to have efficient stock management as well as reducing the amount of waste material compared to traditional manufacturing methods. The ability to combine assembled structures into one part and to deliver custom orders quickly has given this field unprecedented efficiency.

Manufacturing parts for the aviation industry is extensively regulated, and the manufacturing processes have to be impeccable regardless of the method. miniFactory and NLR are taking on this challenge. The goal is to find out which certification process works for parts manufactured with FFF technology, and how various things can be verified. The process monitoring tool developed by miniFactory is a great foundation for the project. It can verify the quality and repeatability of the printed parts. The study will also investigate the compatibility of the parts with the desired applications. As 3D printing is implemented increasingly more, new applications are identified all the time, and it can safely be said that this field will continue to grow in the coming years.

“This is a fascinating project. It’s in line with our corporate strategy, which aims to manufacture 3D-printable end-use parts reliably. NLR has 100 years of experience with R&D in the aviation industry. They are great innovators in this field, with extensive experience and know-how, giving credibility to the project and providing a great foundation for achieving the common goal. Projects like this are usually continuous and long-lasting. However, there are no shortcuts to success; you just need long-term dedication.” – Olli Pihlajamäki, COO at miniFactory.
“NLR is always working on the edge of the latest technologies and driving innovations to the next level. Additive Manufacturing offers huge potential for new innovations not only in aerospace but also in other fields. It is excellent tool where flexibility in design and optimisation for weight are important design drivers. We are very excited about the collaboration between miniFactory and NLR. It is a very important expansion of the activities of NLR-MAMTEC and will drive research in the field of FFF technology to the next level.” – Bert Thuis, Head Structures Technology Department – Royal NLR



3D printing has increased its share in the manufacturing industry considerably over the past few years. This adaptation of the 3D printing technology occurs through close collaboration between different parties, each playing a significant role. The world’s leading chemical companies are manufacturing materials suitable for 3D printing using already known high-quality raw materials. Research institutes such as NLR support the end client, ensuring the optimal approaches and solutions for various customer challenges. In addition to miniFactory and NLR, there will be material manufacturers and pilot clients also involved in this project.

“Every party brings their specific expertise and vision to the project, which creates the big picture. Therefore, we all can understand what is required from everyone involved, so that we can achieve the common goal. We are now developing solutions and ideas which will be commonplace in 5 – 10 years’ time.” – Olli Pihlajamäki, COO at miniFactory.


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