Manufacturing breakthrough at Cranfield is set to transform aircraft industry

Dec 24, 2013


The Additive Manufacturing process enables the manufacture of large structural parts at significantly reduced time and cost constraints when compared to existing methods. 
One of the largest 3D metal parts in the UK has now been produced as a result of the research.
Designed by BAE Systems engineers, the part measures 1.2 metres in length and is made of titanium. Known as a spar section, it forms a main structural element of the aircraft wing structure.
Professor Stewart Williams, who leads the project for Cranfield University, said “This is an exciting technology with huge potential for the aerospace industry. Cranfield is renowned for its close working relationships with industry partners and this is an excellent example.”
The spar section took just 37 hours to build from a digital model… a process that previously would have taken weeks to complete.
Professor Williams said: “We will continue working with BAE Systems to improve the process and develop additional parts and processes that can be applied commercially.”
The manufacture of the part used a specific kind of 3D printing known as Wire+Arc Additive Manufacture.
Virtually any shape can be created through a process of adding successive layers of material in different shapes. Traditional machining techniques mostly rely on the removal of material through cutting or drilling, creating more wastage.
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