Delcam to support GKN Aerospace research collaboration into additive manufacturing
Delcam is to be part of a consortium of UK companies to be lead by GKN Aerospace in a 3½ year, £13.4 million research and development programme called Horizon (AM) that builds on GKN Aerospace’s extensive and fast-developing capability in additive manufacturing.
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) and funded jointly by industry and the UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB).
The project is part of a major investment of £154 million in research projects to keep the UK as a world leader in aerospace innovation that was announced by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, during his visit to 2014 Farnborough International Air Show.
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 per cent lighter than their conventional counterparts, with complex geometries that cannot be manufactured cost effectively today. These new processes will unlock innovations in low-drag, high-performance wing designs and in 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 minimal subsequent machining. This will dramatically improve the ‘buy-to-fly’ ratio of the parts by reducing the considerable cost in time and material wastage associated with the conventional machining of metal forgings or billets. With material wastage as high as 90 per cent for some parts, a significant reduction here will also provide major environmental benefits.
Within the project, Delcam will work with GKN Aerospace on an integrated solution to combine additive and subtractive technologies seamlessly. This approach will allow companies to benefit from both the geometrical freedom offered by AM and the surface finish and accuracy that is possible with subtractive manufacturing.
Rich Oldfield, Technical Director of GKN Aerospace, explained: '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.'