Aug 19, 2016 | By Tess

British engineering and additive manufacturing company Renishaw has partnered with aerospace giant Airbus on a new £17.7 million project geared towards developing new ways of designing and manufacturing aircraft wings with 3D printing technologies. The project, called Wing Design Methodology Validation or Windy, is hoping to encourage what the companies have called a “right first time approach” which will aim to reduce development time of aircraft parts.

First announced at the Farnborough International Airshow, the partnership and new project are being funded through a joint industry and UK government investment. The latter has been made possible through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI). The project itself is being led by a team from Airbus in Filton, Bristol—a leader in the design, development, and testing of aircraft wings—and will be undertaken in partnership with Renishaw, who will provide expertise in both the areas of metal 3D printing and precision measurement.

Clive Martell, Renishaw’s head of global additive manufacturing, says of the project: “This is a fantastic opportunity to work with Airbus and other project partners to develop processes that will fully test the capabilities of additive manufacturing. If we can highlight the design and production benefits of this technology in one of the most demanding industry sectors, then it paves the way for greater of adoption of AM for serialised production in many other applications.”

Renishaw's Clive Martell

As mentioned, the Windy project will be focused on the development of new and innovative aircraft wing designs in an overall more efficient way. As Tom Williams, Airbus chief operating officer, explains: “Aircraft wing design is a hugely complicated process and this project will look at ways we can increase robustness of the design and test process while also reducing the time this takes. Developing state-of-the-art technology will be at the heart of achieving these improvements and this investment is vital for that.”

Specifically, Windy will investigate the potentials of creating complex components for wing structures with 3D printing, designing more aerodynamic wing models, and the potentials of developing innovative loads control on aircraft to enable more efficiency while flying. One of the project’s main goals, as CTO of the ATI Simon Weeks explains, is to help sustain and expand the UK’s position as global leader in the manufacturing of advanced aircraft wings.

Weeks says, “The Windy project is a key element of this aim, securing essential wing design and integration capabilities in the UK and opening the way to innovative 3D printed wing components. These will lead to lighter and more efficient wings, which will be needed for future generations of greener airliners.”

To put the project into more perspective, within the next 15 to 20 years, a reported 30,000 new aircraft will be required, to both replace existing models and to expand airlines’ fleets. Current projects and innovations like the Windy project will help in the development of new and innovative features for these future models, and will help to advance the aircraft industry as a whole.

In the UK, the aerospace sector supports more than 3,000 companies and directly employs more than 116,000 people. The UK also boasts having Europe’s leading aerospace industry, which on a global level is second only to the United States. Additionally, the industry has grown by a rate of 5% every year largely due to the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP) which promotes the industry through industry and government partnerships.

Now, with metal 3D printing experts Renishaw in the mix, new innovations and advancements within the sector are expected.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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