Dec.21, 2013

One of the largest 3D printed metal parts has been made in the UK, demonstrating how 3D printing technology could revolutionise the way aircraft are produced in the future.

In a collaborative project, led by Cranfield University, researchers from BAE Systems at Samlesbury and Warton designed the part which is known in the industry as a spar section and sits longitudinally to form part of an aircraft wing structure. Cranfield University has a long history in Additive Manufacturing and in 1994 developed Shaped Metal Deposition (SMD) for Rolls Royce for engine casings and other processes.

The part, measuring 1.2m in length was produced in just 37 hours from digital model to a complete 3 dimensional part using a specific kind of 3D printing known as the Wire and Arc Additive Manufacture (WAAM) process. The WAAM allows the production of large custom-made metal parts with high deposition rates, a major concern of the aircraft industry. In WAAM an increase in productivity can be achieved through the use of high weld travel speeds.

Matt Stevens, one of the BAE Systems engineering leads on the project, said "What we've been able to demonstrate from this project is that we have the ability to manufacture titanium parts on this scale. The next stage is to continue working together to produce more parts and to develop a robust set of processes so that we can take this technology and apply it safely and seamlessly into the aerospace industry."

BAE's Mark Potter with the 3D printed titanium spar

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. We will continue working with BAE Systems to improve the process and develop additional parts and processes that can be applied commercially.”

There are several benefits to producing parts this way, cutting costs and saving time being two of the key ones. To date BAE Systems has already flown a number of flight cleared 3D printed non-metallic parts made out of materials such as ULTEM and Polyamide12. But this latest project leads the way for greater use of 3D printing in building aircraft wings.


Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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Paul Yak wrote at 3/6/2014 7:57:01 PM:

We are BLESSED "Tech/Engineering Wise" in the UK/European area as many race/research/R&D universities/companies are at the pinnacle of this emerging advance for humanity. Yes, it truly is that big a technology, they'll be growing bones, human organs, disc aircraft including power sources and whole buildings within 20 yrs, of that I'm (almost) SURE!!!! All depending upon if the elites that have withheld Schauberger, Tesla, Rife cancer cure, Cold Fusion and many other known technologies. Can you start to imagine what they've kept from us that we don't know about? The head of SkunkWorks in the USA when near death publicly announced they had built star craft of faster than light over 50yrs previous yet he was disgusted that powerful elites had kept his projects hidden from mankind who paid for them. PLEASE excuse the rant, but from what I've been told, 3d printing can be a major technical advancement for mankind.

Davis Reede wrote at 1/18/2014 3:29:47 AM:

AWESOME!!!! Finally some easy to understand beginner info. After watching your video I can see a couple of things I've been doing wrong, including probably using the wrong polarity! Thanks a ton, and keep 'em coming!

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