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GKN Aerospace to infuse £33M in two new Ground-breaking Additive Manufacturing Research Programmes

additive manufacturing research
Above: GKN Aerospace recently announced a £32m Global Technology Centre in Bristol/Image Credit: GKN Aerospace

GKN Aerospace, the world’s leading tier-one supplier of aerospace components, has announced an ambitious plan to lead two ground-breaking additive manufacturing (AM) research programmes, namely, AIRLIFT and DAM. Both the research programmes will concentrate on using its unique Laser Metal Deposition by wire (LMD-w) AM technology.

GKN Aerospace aims to make AM ready for serial production and to revolutionise product design for high value, high complexity product manufacture. GKN is a global leader in using additive manufacturing technology for its component manufacturing and the fact that its solutions are already on seven flying platforms is proof of its capabilities.

AIRLIFT (Additive Industrialisation for Future Technology) Research Programme

The AIRLIFT Research Programme is a £19M technology industrialisation programme that uses Industry 4.0 and simulation competencies to enhance both laser metal deposition with wire (LMD-w) and powder bed AM technologies.

DAM (Developing Design for Additive Manufacturing) Research Programme

The DAM Research Programme is a £14M programme aimed at developing the next generation of design tools and methods for additive manufacturing using a data-driven, material-centric approach. 

GKN is being supported by multiple partners in both its programmes by companies like Autodesk, ATI Programme and Siemens Digital Industries Software. Each of the partners will bring their own set of expertise in addition to skills from multiple universities, research institutes, and industry.

In addition to this, forty highly specialised engineers and operators will work together on the programmes, which will be based out of GKN Aerospace’s recently announced £32m Global Technology Centre in Bristol.

Speaking on the additive manufacturing research programmes, Russ Dunn, CTO, and Head of Strategy, GKN Aerospace explains, “AM is a strategic technology for the Aerospace Industry that will fundamentally change the way we design and manufacture aircraft. AM enables us to control material characteristics enabling benefits in terms of product performance, cost and environment. With AIRLIFT and DAM and the Global Technology Centre in Bristol, GKN Aerospace will further develop and industrialise additive manufacturing within the UK industrial and scientific eco-system. The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) is an incredibly valuable resource for UK aerospace and we are delighted they are supporting this project to help the UK stay at the forefront of this exciting and emerging technology as part of the UK’s industrial strategy.“

According to one of its partner, Dr. Simon Weeks, Chief Technology Officer of the Aerospace Technology Institute, “The ATI is delighted to support GKN Aerospace’s AIRLIFT and DAM projects. These exciting projects will progress additive manufacturing technology, extending the capabilities for large-scale AM component manufacture for the UK. This offers great opportunities for efficient future aircraft structures with tailored properties as well as a valuable material and energy savings. These investments in GKN’s new Global Technology centre will strengthen the UK’s position in AM and establish a route to industrialise Laser Wire Deposition for aerospace.”

With these programmes the company aims to accelerate industrialisation and increase GKN Aerospace’s market share in the growing global AM market.


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