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: 3D printed turbine componentsBuy the report here.

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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.

3D printed turbine components 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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of 3D printed turbine components.

Key players in 3D printed turbine components – 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 3D printed turbine components

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Deutsche Lufthansa 9 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce 61 Unlock Company Profile
Snecma Services 1 Unlock Company Profile
KKR 25 Unlock Company Profile
Baker Hughes 1 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 96 Unlock Company Profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 24 Unlock Company Profile
Allied Power Group 1 Unlock Company Profile
Sulzer 31 Unlock Company Profile
Snecma 13 Unlock Company Profile
Alstom 14 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 251 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens Energy 215 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi 21 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 86 Unlock Company Profile
SCHUNK 1 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 47 Unlock Company Profile
DMG Mori Seiki 2 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 7 Unlock Company Profile
Kennametal 5 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 21 Unlock Company Profile
CDP Equity 6 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 6 Unlock Company Profile
SLM Solutions Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
Ansaldo Energia 11 Unlock Company Profile
DMG Mori 3 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

RTX (formerly Raytheon Technologies) is the leading patent filer in the 3D printed turbine components segment 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.

Some other leading patent filers in this domain include Rolls-Royce and Safran.

In terms of application diversity, Snecma Services leads the pack, while Rolls-Royce and Snecma stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographical reach, Safran held the top position, followed by Rolls-Royce 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.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.