Sometime soon, your Uber ride might take place in the air.

               In January, Hyundai announced its four-passenger eVTOL will be ready by 2028. Several other companies are also working on producing “air taxis” and further illustrates the burgeoning market for eVTOL, which is an acronym for electric vertical takeoff and landing. The eVTOL market is expected to reach $3.1 billion by 2030 with a compound annual growth rate of 14.5 percent over the next six years. One report said air taxis will achieve commercial viability in 2024.

               Alpha Metalcraft Group manufactures an important component for eVTOL aircraft. With its electroforming process, AMG makes leading edge guards for composite rotor blades. The guards – also referred to as abrasion strips – protect aircraft from erosion caused by water droplets and solid particles.

               Abrasion strips last between 1,000 to 2,500 flight hours and play an essential role in flight performance for helicopters and eVTOLs. Blade erosion can cause serious efficiency loss and vibration effects for the helicopter.

               Abrasion strips are manufactured through electroforming, one of the specialty processes of AMG. In electroforming, materials are joined together, layer by layer, similar to 3D printing. The process builds up metal parts atom by atom, one tiny piece at a time. Components manufactured by electroforming can be quite large – up to 6,000 pounds and 17 feet long.

               Electroforming offers several benefits. It provides more precision, minimizes waste, variable wall thickness if necessary and can produce large, heavy, and oversized components. Large production runs of components is another benefit. Once the parameters for a specific part have been established, it is easy to scale up for larger production runs with relatively minor investment.

               Because electroforming can be a “lights-out” process, it can recognize fast production cycles which will be necessary to support the rapidly expanding eVTOL market. The demand is fueled by advancements in electric propulsion such as motors, batteries, fuel cells and electric controllers. It has also surged due to notable increases in traffic congestion in nations such as China and India. “The demand for products facilitating faster commutes is expected to witness a concurrent increase with the ongoing trend of urbanization,’’ Yahoo Finance reported.

               The cost for an eVTOL lift is surprisingly affordable. A report in 2021 said passengers can expect to pay $2.25 to $11 per mile, depending on several factors. There’s also a wide range in the cost for a eVTOL. One company is offering packages ranging from $190,000 to $240,000. The industry is also spawning the rise of vertiports. The vertiport market is expected to increase to $10.7 billion by 2030.

               There is a long way to go before eVTOLs become as popular as Uber. But the industry is poised to explode in the near term, and abrasion strips from AMG will be one of the critical components that help the industry take flight.