25th July 2014
GKN Aerospace is to lead a consortium of UK companies in a 3 ½ year, GBP 13.4M research and development programme called Horizon (AM) that builds on GKN Aerospace’s extensive and fast-developing additive manufacturing capability.
The Horizon (AM) team includes GKN Aerospace, Renishaw, Delcam, and the Universities of Sheffield and Warwick. The programme is backed by the UK’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% lighter than their conventional counterparts, with complex geometries that cannot be cost effectively manufactured today. These new processes will unlock innovations in low drag, high-performance wing designs and lighter, even more efficient engine systems – and lead to dramatic reductions in aircraft fuel consumption and emissions.
The programme will focus initially on using AM techniques to create near net shape parts which require very little machining. This will dramatically improve the ‘buy to fly’ ratio of the part by reducing the considerable cost in time and material wastage associated with the conventional machining of metal forgings. With material wastage as high as 90% 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 UK 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 industrialising these technologies for use in both current programme updates and next-generation aircraft.”