GKN Aerospace to lead collaboration on additive manufacturing research

GKN Aerosapce will work with Renishaw, Delcam and the Universities of Sheffield and Warwick in the U.K. to research and develop a variety of additive manufacturing techniques.

GKN Aerospace (Redditch, U.K.) reported on Juyly 17 that it will lead a consortium of U.K. companies in a three-and-a-half-year, £13.4 million research and development program called Horizon (AM) that builds on GKN Aerospace’s extensive and fast-developing additive manufacturing (AM) capability.

The Horizon (AM) team includes GKN Aerospace, Renishaw, Delcam and the Universities of Sheffield and Warwick. The program is backed by the U.K.’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI).

Horizon (AM) will take a number of promising additive manufacturing (AM) techniques from research and development through to viable production processes, able to create components that could be as much as 50 percent lighter than their conventional counterparts, with complex geometries that cannot be cost-effectively manufactured today. These new processes reportedly will unlock innovations in low-drag, high-performance wing designs and lighter, even more efficient engine systems — and lead to reductions in aircraft fuel consumption and emissions.

The program will focus initially on using AM techniques to create near net shape parts which require very little machining. This will improve the buy-to-fly ratio of the part by reducing the considerable cost in time and material waste associated with the conventional machining of metal forgings. With material waste as high as 90 percent for some parts, a significant reduction here will also provide major environmental benefits.

Rich Oldfield, technical director, GKN Aerospace, explains: “AM incorporates a range of hugely promising manufacturing technologies that the U.K. aerospace sector must fully understand and exploit if it is to retain its position as the largest national aerospace industry outside the USA. This strong consortium has the expertise and understanding to continue the process of industrializing these technologies for use in both current program updates and next-generation aircraft.”

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