In order to boost sustainability goals to reduce cost and time wastage across critical component manufacturing, a consortium led by the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) is launching a new project to develop Hybrid DED technology. This project is now joined by industry leaders like Airbus, a global leader in the aerospace sector, and Safran Landing Systems, world leader in aircraft landing and braking systems.
Funded by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), and supported by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the ‘Hybrid Direct Energy Deposition (DED) Sprint’ project partners include NMIS Digital Factory, Cranfield University and the Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC), which is based at Queen’s University Belfast, along with an industry steering group of 13 companies.
Safran 3D Printing Landing Gears
In a previous cooperative partnership with SLM Solutions, Safran Landing Systems developed and 3D printed a landing gear. It employed SLM Solutions’ metal 3D printing technology to create a component of a bizjet’s nose landing gear.
The project’s common goal was to demonstrate the viability of producing a primary fitting using the Selective Laser Melting technology. As a result, the component was rebuilt for metal 3D printing, providing for time savings throughout the process as well as a considerable weight reduction of around 15% of the component.
Traditionally key aerospace parts, such as those within an aircraft’s landing gear, are forged and then machined, but using Hybrid DED methodologies can reduce tooling, forging, and machining requirements. Adding features directly onto forged and formed substrates using AM leads to a more efficient manufacturing process with less materials waste – providing significant cost and sustainability benefits. This also opens up opportunities for new repair and remanufacture methods.
New Hybrid DED Technology
The consortium is working towards developing a new Hybrid DED technology that will help overcome current challenges that manufacturers face in relation to the expensive and time-consuming process of manufacturing critical components required to operate under harsh environments.
The group believes that for achieving sustainable production and at the same time be future-proof, they have to rely on a hybrid DED process. A hybrid DED process will help in achieving all the consortium goals like lowering costs, allowing production flexibility, and design adaptability.
In addition to this, the new hybrid DED technology will also include benefit of parallel kinematic machine (PKM) techniques, which combines the dexterity of robots with the accuracy of machine tools.
The project is now focused only on the aerospace sector, but soon it will be expanded to include a wide variety of industries including oil and gas, defence, space and automotive.
“This project has real potential to deliver more efficient alternative manufacturing routes for aerospace companies, and will enable key industry drivers such as reduced embodied emissions, remanufacturing, and more resilient supply chains.”– Stephen Fitzpatrick, Additive Manufacturing and Machining Lead at the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, who is PI on the project
The first two phases of the project are currently underway, led by NMIS, which is administered by the University of Strathclyde and Cranfield University, with intentions to deliver a demonstrator component later this year. The third phase, headed by Queen’s University Belfast’s NITC, will concentrate on PKM machining, while the final proof of concept phase will compare traditional and alternative manufacturing processes.
“The use of AM coupled with forging and PKM technologies takes a transformative approach to this process, offering the potential to reduce lead time, production costs and material waste while supporting the drive towards net zero targets and creating a production model that genuinely contributes to a circular economy.”– Dr Misael Pimentel, Manufacturing Engineer at the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, who is leading the project
The ATI is funding the Hybrid DED technology project, which is part of a portfolio of cutting-edge projects aimed at enhancing the UK’s aerospace research and technology capabilities by fostering collaboration between university and industry.
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