Aerospace Component Manufacturing for Prototyping and Production

Reduce risk, get to launch faster, and streamline your supply chain with rapid prototyping and on-demand production


ISO 9001:2015  | ISO 14001:2018 | ISO 13485 |  DNV Qualification of Manufacture for Inconel 718 | JOSCAR

Trusted By Nokia lockheed martin General Drones space inventor

How can digital manufacturing support the aerospace & defence industry?

Within the Aerospace and Defence industry, managing risk
and complexity, setting higher standards, and driving lower costs and increased
capabilities are all key. When it comes to materials, there are stringent
requirements, such as high-temperature resistance, corrosion resistance, high
strength, and, ideally, lightweight.

When it comes to aerospace manufacturing services, the
applications are vast, wide and diverse. Consider numerous prototypes for a
rocket combustion engine and then compare this to a one-off replacement
propeller for a jet plane or mass-produced nuts for a bulk order of drones. All
three are vastly different scenarios for the same industry.



65,000+ parts produced

for the Aerospace & Defence Industry 

each year.





80+ Aerospace & Defence companies

worked with each year.






41,000+ IM parts made each year

18,000+ 3DP parts made each year

7,000+ CNC parts made each year



Challenges within the Aerospace & Defence Industry

Customer Success Stories from the Aerospace & Defence Industry

Customers from the aerospace & defence industry who have achieved success by partnering with Protolabs.


What Materials Work Best for Aerospace Components?

Titanium. Valued for their excellent strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance and temperature resistance. This lightweight and strong material is commonly used in aircraft structures, engine components and landing gear systems. This material can be both machined or printed depending on part geometries and functionality requirements.

Stainless Steel. SS 17-4 PH is widely used in the aerospace industry due to its high strength, good corrosion resistance, and good mechanical properties at temperatures up to 315°C. Like titanium, it can be machined or 3D printed.

stainless steel 17-4 PH material part - aerospace material
Liquid silicone rubber Fluorosilicone - aerospace material

Inconel 718. This 3D-printed metal is a nickel chromium superalloy ideal for rocket engine components and other applications that require high-temperature resistance.

Aluminium. This metal’s high strength-to-weight ratio makes it a good candidate for housing and brackets that must support high loading. It also offers corrosion resistance and excellent light-weighting properties.  Often used in aircraft fuselages, wings, structural components and engine parts. Aluminium is available for both machined and 3D-printed parts.

Liquid Silicone Rubber. Our optical silicone rubber is a great PC/PMMA alternative. Clarity and transparency make it suitable for applications where light transmission is critical, such as, fibre optic components, LEDs, optical sensors, optical filters and cockpit displays and HUDs (heads-up-displays).


PEEK (Poly Ether Ketone). A high-performance thermoplastic known for its excellent mechanical properties, chemical resistance, and thermal stability. It is used in structural components, vearings, seals, and electrical insulators.

What are the applications of digitally manufactured parts for the Aerospace & Defence Industry?

Here are some examples of products that can be produced for the aerospace & defence industry using injection moulding, CNC machining and 3D printing.


These diagrams show examples of some of the parts that can be produced for components and parts used in the Aerospace and Defence industries using our rapid prototyping services. If you have questions regarding your part or component, please call +44 (0) 1952 683047 or email [email protected].

What are the applications of 3D printed parts in the aerospace & defence industry?

  • Prototypes for validation testing
  • Fixtures, jigs and moulds
  • Fuel nozzles
  • Turbine blades
  • Heat exchangers
  • Brackets
  • Antenna structures
  • Propulsion system parts


What are the applications of injection moulded parts in the aerospace & defence industry?

  • Covers & Panels
  • Brackets, mounts & housings
  • Connectors, fittings & fasteners
  • Gears 
  • Nuts
  • Frames
  • Hatch
  • LEDs/Lenses

What are the applications of CNC machined parts in the aerospace & defence industry?

  • Turbine blades
  • Compressor parts
  • Housings
  • Frames
  • Ribs
  • Fittings
  • Landing gear components
  • Fuselage panels
  • Brackets
  • Motors & Propellers

Why manufacturers of Aerospace & Defence products used Protolabs

A closer look at why Aerospace & Defence companies are choosing Protolabs for aerospace manufacturing services.

With injection moulding, you can achieve the unparalleled precision and complexity needed for aerospace parts manufacturing, utilising measurement inspection reports to effectively manage risk and uniformity across every part. Domestic factories, fast production cycles and reduced lead times, enable you to manage tight deadlines and respond quickly to maintain a competitive edge. Our wide range of thermoplastics, thermosets and elastomers display a variety of key characteristics for aerospace & defence parts including, thermal stability, chemical resistance and mechanical properties. With elastomer materials available that offer good clarity and transparency, perfect for components that require light transmission, such as fibre optic components. At Protolabs injection moulding for aerospace offers any sort of capacity from one off prototype models or custom projects to low-volume production (through our domestic factories) and high-volume production (through our Protolabs network). No minimum order quantities, offering bridge tooling, scalability and cost efficiency, an ideal solution for aerospace manufacturers aiming to increase their presence or competitiveness in the market.

  • Scientific moulding, Critical to Quality (CTQ) capability report, Coordinate-Measurement Machines (CMM) and more
  • Maximise traceability of raw materials from prototyping to production, with clear lines of sight over inventory, such as serial numbers for resin used in injection moulding.
  • Digital front-end and automated workflows to improve part management.
  • Lower setup costs with more cost-effective, standardised tooling to reduce outlay and delay
  • Utilise our Consultative Design Services at any stage of the process for expert engineering know how.
  • Design for Manufacturability Analysis (DfMA), our propriety software analyses your part and often returns it in minutes. (May take up to 48 hours for more complex parts)
  • Variety of Thermosets and Thermoplastics - choose from hundreds of materials or provide your own material.
  • Reduced Cycle Times
  • Supply Chain Resilience - allowing for large-scale production or just-in-time production types.
  • Rapid Prototyping and Iterative Design - enabling you to keep ahead of the competition
  • Scalability and flexibility - allowing for ramping up production quickly whilst maintaining quality standards and meeting delivery times.
  • Aluminium tooling - reduce cost and improve efficiency with aluminium tooling covered by our life-time guarantee when using our on-demand manufacturing service.

CNC Machining is the go to service for the aerospace & defence industry, because of its high levels of accuracy, ability to achieve highly complex geometries and intricate features. Fast turnaround times and efficient production cycles, enable our customers to rapidly iterate on designs, allowing you to stay ahead of the competition.
With a wide range of relevant materials including metals, plastics and composites. With many displaying key considerations such as durability, lengevity and the ability to withstand the most demanding applications such as, parts in rockets, combustion engines and parts that need to withstand the harsh environments of the ocean. CNC machining for the aerospace & defence industry is vast, including items such as turbine blades, compressor parts, landing gear components, and more.

  • Wide variety of suitable materials, including a selection of Corrosion resistant, durable, strong, light-weighting and thermally stable materials.
  • Benefit from out extended partner network - offering additional services and specifications (including additional certifications and post processing treatments).
  • Numerous surface finishes and secondary services available such as; threading, anodising, assembly and much more
  • Aerospace prototyping services - offer fast iterative design for manufacturability, quick-turn parts for functional testing and design optimisation support whenever you require, to help you stay ahead of the competition
  • Digital front-end and automated workflows to improve part management
  • Quality assurance - ISO 9001:2015 certification for quality along with various quality control measures that can be included when producing your part.
    JOSCAR certified and DNV qualification of manufacture for Inconel 718.
  • Industry-leading turnaround times - accelerated product development cycles
  • Scalability - whether you are a small start-up or a large conglomerate, we have unlimited capacity to suport your requirements. Allowing you to seamlessly trasission from prototyping to full-scale production.

Innovation in the aerospace & defence sectors has reached new heights with the introduction of 3D printing technology. Unlocking unparalleled opportunities for customisation, complex geometries and efficiency. This transformative technology offers design engineers the freedom to create complex geometries, light-weight structures and integrated functionalities that are deemed unattainable with conventional manufacturing methods. To put the icing on the cake, 3D printing enables rapid prototyping and iteration, facilitating accelerated product development cycles and empowering stakeholders to swiftly adapt to evolving requirements and technological advancements. 3D printing for aerospace & defence has a huge potential allowing for the production of prototypes, fuel nozzles, turbine blades, heat exchanges, and more.

  • Certifications such as ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2018, JOSCAR and DNV.
  • A vast selection of materials, including corrosion resistant, conductive, temperature resistance/ conductivity, lightweighting and micro-resolution materials.
  • A wide range of post-processing treatments including, powder analysis and material traceability, mechanical testing, heat treatments and much more.
  • Sustainability - 3D printing is an additive manufacturing service, which automatically makes it more sustainable than its manufacturing alternatives. Only material required is added, rather than removing from a block and leaving waste
  • Suitable for tailored products, low-volume, difficult to forecast products such as those requiring a Just-in-time approach.
  • Advanced technologies - Protolabs leverages advanced 3D printing technologies including selective laser sintering and direct metal laser sintering to produce precise and detailed aerospace parts with superior surface finishes and dimensional accuracy.
  • Flexible prototyping for early developmental stages, easy to apply modifications on iterations.
  • Tip-of-class surface finishes - Protolabs a variety of surface finishes including vapour smoothed surfaces, leather-look surface finishes, anodised parts, parts with machined surfaces, custom polished and much more.
  • Customisation - due to flexibility and responsiveness of 3D printing parts can be produced as they are needed
  • Complex and impossible geometries - when it comes to designing for 3D printed parts, the world is your oyster, there are no limitations.

Horizon Shift

Protolabs’ latest survey into the European aerospace industry is presented in a two-part series: Horizon Shift, Chapter 1, was taken from an initial study of 325 executives taken at the start of the global pandemic, while Chapter 2 involved 80 key industry professionals from across Europe and gives a unique insight into the sector, particularly regarding the changes that derived from the period of unprecedented change. Both chapters are available to download now.


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