Parts fly­ing out the door

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - 3D TECHNOLOGY -

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.

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