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18th June 2019, Redditch

GKN Aerospace takes additive manufacturing to the next level

GKN Aerospace has been at the forefront of LMD-w technology for more than a decade. © GKN Aerospace

GKN Aerospace has been at the forefront of LMD-w technology for more than a decade. © GKN Aerospace

GKN Aerospace, headquartered in in Redditch, UK, has made a significant investment in a new additive manufacturing pilot production cell at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, TN.

It houses what is believed to be the largest laser metal deposition with wire (LMD-w) pilot production plant in the world and will allow the company – which already has additive manufacturing components on a range of aerospace programmes – to research and develop further large-scale structural parts.

“We are proud to introduce the next step in our additive manufacturing research as we continue to push the boundaries of this transformative technology,” said Mike McCann, CEO of GKN Aerospace’s Aerostructures North America. “With this, we will target large scale aerostructure components with a focus on dramatic improvements in buy-to-fly and cost reductions over plate and forgings.”

GKN Aerospace has been at the forefront of LMD-w technology for more than a decade. This began at its world-leading aero-engine systems business in Sweden and in 2017, signing a five-year $17.8 million USD research agreement with ORNL.

The 2017 agreement included the opening of GKN Aerospace’s first prototype cell at ORNL which, over the past two years, has transitioned technology from GKN Aerospace engines to aerostructures applications and implemented advanced closed-looped controls to manage the process with complex geometry.

“Through our cooperative research, we have seen first-hand how additive manufacturing will continue to revolutionise the design and manufacture of aircraft structures,” said McCann.

The GKN Aerospace Cell 2 is equipped with a 20KW laser with 8-axis motion and is designed to enable full industrialisation of the LMD-w process.

www.gknaerospace.com

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