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GKN Aerospace to lead $23M research collaboration in additive manufacturing; up to 50% reduction in component weight

UK-based GKN Aerospace is to lead a consortium of UK companies in a 3½-year £13.4-million (US$23-million) research and development program called Horizon (AM) that builds on GKN Aerospace’s extensive and fast-developing additive manufacturing capability.

The Horizon (AM) team includes GKN Aerospace, Renishaw, Delcam, and the Universities of Sheffield and Warwick. The program is backed by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI).

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.

These new processes will unlock innovations in low drag, high-performance wing designs and lighter, even more efficient engine systems and lead to significant reductions in aircraft fuel consumption and emissions.

The program will focus initially on using AM techniques to create near net shape parts which require very little machining. This will improve the buy-to-fly ratio of the part by reducing the cost in time and material wastage associated with the conventional machining of metal forgings. With material wastage as high as 90% for some parts, a significant reduction here will also provide major environmental benefits.

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