Leading aerospace companies including Airbus and Safran Landing Systems are working with a consortium led by the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) on a new project aiming to offer a major sustainability boost, along with cost and lead time savings, across critical component manufacturing through a combination of forging, forming and additive manufacturing.
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.
The group is working to devise a new Hybrid DED process 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.
Looking to streamline and future-proof production, the method combines the low costs and flexibility of forging, high production rates of forming and design adaptability of additive manufacturing (AM). It also includes the benefits of parallel kinematic machine (PKM) techniques, which combines the dexterity of robots with the accuracy of machine tools.
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.
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