Quickparts offers aerospace parts manufacturing that is fast
and high quality.
By Jennifer Ferrero
Value, quality, and speedy manufacturing of aerospace parts punctuate Quickparts. The company is international and has offices around the country and in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Salvador Mikel, chief revenue officer, said, “The company has resources with regionalized facilities and options for low-volume prototype and production runs.”
Mikel said, “With a global scale, (we are) constantly adding new technologies.” They recently added Roboze machines which eliminate the need for expensive high-end metal parts and use super polymers instead. He added, “With this technology, the machines and materials are already qualified for critical applications in aerospace.”
Their Seattle office serves aerospace manufacturing in the Northwest. General Manager Nancy Holt of the Seattle office has been with the company for 32 years.
Holt said they are a solution for the aerospace industry because “of our diverse offering. We focus on quality and speed, and we can maintain that across offerings.”
Holt said the new Roboze machines are at the Seattle location. Roboze makes machinery for 3D additive printing with polymers and composites. Mikel said, “Roboze is using super polymers and composites; replacing metal parts lowers the cost of parts and shortens manufacturing time.”
The company keeps offerings simple, but they say they can build any custom project and handle projects of all complexities, which they say their competitors cannot. Services include 3D, injection molding, CNC, and other traditional manufacturing services. Christina Belenky, PR manager, said, “We have two offerings that offer faster shipping times—Quickparts Express (3D can be as fast as the same day, five days for IJM and CNC), or a traditional portfolio that offers more material selection, more complex geometries, and higher part runs. Customers can choose the right offering based on tighter timeline needs and complexities/runs of their part.” Mikel said they offer in-house services but have a network of contractors outsourcing portions of projects as needed.
Mikel said that for most metal manufacturing processes, “It is about subtracting,” like removing portions of a block of metal to make a part. But with additive manufacturing, it is built up layer by layer.
Mikel and Holt reflected on the speed to market for aerospace parts. Their business is focused on convenience in making custom parts. In addition, Mikel said that certifications play an important role. They are EN 9100 certified (the European equivalent to AS 9100D).
Holt said that their qualifications and the ability to build relationships mean they can “be involved with a project from day one through production.” They develop and leverage relationships with customers where trust can be built. “Speed to market is at the forefront of a customer’s mind. They either have an existing product to get to market, or they are re-developing or replacing a product,” Holt said. She added that putting a number on a quote is one thing, but “To execute and deliver on that and exceed the expectation, that’s what we strive to do.” That builds trust, she said.
Holt declared the most important thing to the company is the customers, “without them, we wouldn’t be here.”
They provide services throughout the supply chain. They serve Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers at the Seattle location. “There are a few we are working with as Tier 1 suppliers, but the rest are Tier 2,” Holt said. She noted that their customers include foundries and the investment casting industry, saying “Investment Casting is based on the lost-wax casting process that utilizes an expendable pattern to create a mold into which molten metal is poured.” At Quickparts, they 3D print the pattern.
How resilient are 3D-printed items? Holt said that when 3D printing started, it wasn’t that great. But in 2023, you can print an end-use production part for a boat, plane, or truck. Holt said that Roboze has taken this ability to the next level due to its investment in materials. “Customers now have access to resins with 3D printing that includes speed—they can get super composite materials that perform at a high level,” she said.
Mikel said that additive manufacturing is the future, “We are seeing adoption over the last few years; it is easier, faster, and lower cost.” He shared that the advantage of additive manufacturing is to “Design parts so that plastic material is supported. The complexity of the parts you can manufacture with additives is significantly more. With additive manufacturing, you can keep building; simultaneously, it shortens the time and complexity of manufacturing.”
He added that there are no limits in additive manufacturing.
With aerospace regulations, “Additive in aerospace has grown significantly,” Mikel said. There are critical and non-critical parts, and “Additive is widely used for non-critical parts.” He said that over time with “lower costs, and disruption, and also the use of metal in additive parts, the adoption is slower with critical parts.”
But Mikel said that they use traditional manufacturing for applications that have yet to be ready for additives. In the case of mass production, “China is still the name of the game.” But he said that because most aerospace work is not mass production—it is lower runs, with higher control and protection, “You wouldn’t outsource to China.”
He said the newer aerospace parts that use vacuum and urethane casting are still used for traditional aerospace parts.
Both Mikel and Holt indicated that there are options for modern aerospace manufacturing. They can choose the best fit between 3D printing, injection molding, and vacuum casting. The Seattle facility specializes in 3D-printed investment casting patterns, which has lowered the cost of production.
From his perspective, today’s aerospace manufacturing requires traditional and modern techniques. With prototyping, “Rapid prototyping is now dominated by additive manufacturing,” said Mikel. CNC machining is a relevant manufacturing process.
For aerospace mass production, injection molding is most used. For millions of parts, traditional manufacturing methods are still cheaper. “Lowering the cost per unit with additive can lead to mass production,” he added.
“We want to offer the customer exactly what they need for manufacturing,” Mikel said. With the variety of options, they can accommodate the parts needed for the industry. Holt said they practice the highest standards for quality assurance with “full traceability of the part and machine through the entire process.” She said there are inspection processes as well to ensure quality.
Holt said they’d had the same issues with hiring in recent years as many in the Seattle location’s aerospace industry. They offer training processes that are considered “on-the-job” training. Finding reliable, trainable, and adaptable people is the “first hurdle.” From there, they document all training for new employees. She did offer that they encourage employees to refer friends and family to apply to the company. She said it can take time to develop senior-level people, “I am fortunate to have senior-tenured people, which helps when we onboard someone new.”
|Call-out box #1 Quickparts Services Quickparts Express3D Printing / Additive ManufacturingStereolithography (SLA)Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)Direct Metal Printing (DMP)Digital Light Processing (DLP)Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Traditional ManufacturingInjection Mold Tooling and PartsCNC MachiningInvestment Casting PatternsCast UrethaneSheet MetalDie Casting
|Call-out box #2 Our Mission “Client convenience is at the heart of everything we do. Our mission has always been to make custom parts more accessible for all our clients. We believe everyone deserves unique and innovative solutions for their manufacturing needs.”
|Call-out box #3 Different types of 3D Printing (Seattle location) Each of these types of printing uses different materials and processes. Stereolithography (SLA)Multi-jet printers“Roboze” Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Customers show the “geometry” in CAD for the part and specifications, then ask Quickparts how best to produce the part.
Quickparts website: https://quickparts.com/contact-quickparts/