Wayland Additive, the creator of the Calibur3 metal AM system, announced the sale and installation of its technology at the Hilda B. Hewlett Centre for Innovation, which is part of the No 71 Inspection and Repair Squadron at RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire, UK.
The new centre, which is equipped with cutting-edge 3D printing and scanning technology, marks the Royal Air Force’s first foray into advanced component manufacturing.
Calibur3 Metal AM System
As the go-to solution for a variety of manufacturing applications across various industrial sectors, the Calibur3 metal am system employs a proprietary and innovative NeuBeam® process. NeuBeam is a truly revolutionary metal AM process that effectively neutralizes the electron beam (eBeam) powder bed fusion (PBF) process to provide greater flexibility than laser-based AM processes while overcoming the stability issues that many traditional eBeam AM users face.
The RAF could one day produce its own aircraft spares on demand using the Calibur3 metal AM system. The Calibur3 is designed to work with a broader range of metal materials, allowing for the production of lighter and stronger parts commonly used in aerospace applications, as well as parts with high wear resistance.
Spare parts for the RAF can be produced in days rather than months using the Calibur3 system, negating issues associated with logistically challenging supply chains, at a much lower cost, and without the need to stock an array of off-the-shelf spare parts.
Hilda B. Hewlett Centre for Innovation
“The sale of our technology to the RAF is exciting for all involved. Calibur3 has been developed to overcome common problems with metal AM, and uses the NeuBeam® process which delivers on all of the advantages of metal electron beam (eBeam) powder bed fusion (PBF) technology, while overcoming the troublesome issues that have traditionally limited wider adoption.”– Will Richardson, CEO at Wayland Additive
Richardson added, “The Wayland team comprises decades of experience with eBeam research, development, and implementation in the semi-conductor industry. This has allowed them to address and solve the charging issues that have, until now, restricted EBM processes, with the fully neutralized NeuBeam process.”
A Nikon HTX 540 CT scanner, which can examine objects in minute detail, is housed in the Hilda B. Hewlett Centre alongside Wayland’s Calibur3 system. Furthermore, Renishaw’s RenAM 500 metal printer and a Stratasys Fortus 450 polymer printer provide dependable 3D printing capabilities that complement the Wayland and Nikon machines perfectly.
The new equipment, which can work in metal or plastic, can reproduce aircraft components with microscopic accuracy and precision. Months of rigorous testing are required before any manufactured component can be fitted to an aircraft, with every conceivable aspect of the AM process examined in scientific detail.
Squadron Leader Allen Auchterlonie, Officer Commanding No 71 (IR) Squadron said, “One day the Royal Air Force will be able to manufacture structural aircraft components on main operating bases, or even in deployed locations. We’ll be able to save money, but more importantly we won’t have to wait for spares to be delivered and we can get aircraft repaired far more quickly. The opening of this facility is a landmark in this exciting journey.”
71 (IR) Squadron is based at RAF Wittering and is a part of the A4 Force.
“Additive manufacturing offers us enormous potential to repair and modify our aircraft quicker than ever before. Introducing any new capability into the RAF is a serious undertaking and the team at 71 Squadron have gone about this with professionalism and almost obsessive diligence. This is a genuine milestone; a real achievement and I am proud that this project has been led by the A4 Force.”– Group Captain Nick Huntley commander of the A4 Force Elements
Wayland Additive maintains a strong forward order book for the Calibur3 system and is focused on key application areas across industry, including aerospace, medical, energy/power generation, motorsport/automotive, mining and mineral extraction, and military and defence.
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