GKN Heads up New Additive Manufacturing Collaboration

GKN Aerospace has announced it’s to head up a group of UK companies in a £13.4 million additive manufacturing research and development programme called Horizon

The companies and organisations within the Horizon group include Renishaw, Delcam, and the Universities of Sheffield and Warwick.

The group’s main focus is to take promising additive manufacturing techniques from research and development through to viable production processes, able to create components that could be as much as 50% lighter than their conventional counterparts, with complex geometries that cannot be cost effectively manufactured today. These new processes will unlock innovations in low drag, high-performance wing designs and lighter, even more efficient engine systems and could possibly lead to dramatic reductions in aircraft fuel consumption and emissions.

The programme which includes Renishaw, Delcam, and the Universities of Sheffield and Warwick will focus initially on using AM techniques to create near net shape parts which require very little machining. This will dramatically improve the ‘buy to fly’ ratio of the part by reducing the considerable cost in time and material wastage associated with the conventional machining of metal forgings. With material wastage as high as 90% for some parts, a significant reduction here will also provide major benefit for the environment.

Rich Oldfield, Technical Director, GKN Aerospace explains:

The Horizon project 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.