Operation of an electron beam melting (EBM) machine at GKN to produce a solid metal part from powder.

GKN Aerospace to lead research collaboration into additive manufacturing

GKN Aerospace is leading a consortium of U.K. companies in a 3½ year, £13.4 million research and development program called Horizon (AM) that builds on GKN Aerospace’s additive manufacturing (AM) capability. The Horizon (AM) team includes GKN Aerospace, Renishaw, Delcam, and the Universities of Sheffield and Warwick. The program is backed by the U.K.’s Aerospace Technology Institute. 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% lighter than their conventional counterparts, with complex geometries that cannot be cost-effectively manufactured today. It is hoped that these new processes will unlock innovations in low-drag, high-performance wing designs and lighter, even more efficient engine systems—and lead to dramatic reductions in aircraft fuel consumption and emissions. The program will focus initially on using AM techniques to create near net shape parts that 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.

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