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GKN Aerospace sees FDM and carbon-reinforced parts as future of additive manufacturing

The company anticipates greater move towards the use of FDM additive manufacturing to produce high-value, flight-critical, end-use composite parts.

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Stratasys (Minneapolis, MN, US) announced on Sept. 5 that GKN Aerospace (Redditch, UK) is improving production times and removing design constraints for multiple tooling applications since integrating additive manufacturing at its Filton, UK manufacturing site.

According to Tim Hope, Additive Manufacturing Center manager, at GKN Aerospace, the company decided to invest in the Stratasys F900 Production 3D Printer in a bid to cut lead times for production-line tools, and to create complex parts, impossible to make with traditional manufacturing methods.

“Since integrating the F900, we have dramatically reduced production-line downtime for certain teams and are enjoying a new found freedom to design complex tools,” he says. “We can now cost-effectively produce tools for our operators within three hours. This saves critical production time, and by printing in engineering-grade thermoplastics, we can produce 3D printed tools with repeatable, predictable quality every time. All while matching the quality of a traditionally-produced tool, and reducing the costs and concessions compared to equivalent metallic tooling.”

While GKN Aerospace is using a standard thermoplastic today, it is experimenting with Stratasys’ high-strength, heat-resistant ULTE 1010 Resin material for these applications.

Hope anticipates a greater move towards the use of fused deposition modeling (FDM) additive manufacturing to produce high-value, flight-critical, end-use composite parts. “GKN Aerospace’s product range is vast, and we see large-scale FDM and carbon-reinforced parts as the future of additive manufacturing in aerospace,” he says. “By using Stratasys additive manufacturing for tooling, we are harnessing a machine that offers us the freedom to produce unique and complex tools of any size, with the build quality to match any manufacturing requirement.”

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