Parts flying out the door
One of the largest 3D printed metal parts to be produced in the UK has been made. The part, measuring 1.2m in length was produced in just 37 hours from digital model to a complete three-dimensional part.
The part is the result of a research project led by Cranfield University to develop processes for the manufacture of large structural parts using the 3D printing process, otherwise known as additive layer manufacturing (ALM).
Manufacture of the part took place at Cranfield University using the Wire and Arc Additive Manufacture (WAAM) process.
Engineer Matt Stevens says: “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 develop a robust set of processes so that we can take this technology and apply it safely and seamlessly into the aerospace industry.
“To date we have already f lown a number of f light-cleared 3D printed nonmetallic parts made out of materials such as ULTEM and Polyamide12.
“At RAF Marham, where the Tornado squadron is based, we have helped to install the capability to produce protective covers for Tornado cockpit radios, support struts for working on air intake doors and protective guards for PTL shafts.”
The protective covers are made through 3D printing in a day for less than £100 each, meaning savings to date of £ 300,000 with a projected four-year reduction in manufacturing costs of £1.2m.