GKN Aerospace and Materialise have signed a letter of intent which aims to advance the research, design, and production of polymer 3D printed parts for the aviation industry.
The partnership, which was formalised at the Paris Air Show this week, builds on an existing collaboration between the two which has seen the Belgian additive manufacturing (AM) company supplying AM parts to tier 1 aerospace supplier since 2015.
GKN Aerospace and Materialise have already worked together to deliver multiple flying AM parts, including the manufacture of the wingtip for Eviation’s Alice, the world's largest all-electric aircraft. The companies say they now plan to ‘accelerate the certification of the AM process’ and ‘push the boundaries’ of AM for functional and flight-critical production parts.
“This powerful alliance aims to leverage our combined expertise and the exceptional benefits of 3D printing to push the boundaries of innovation in the aeronautics industry”, says Jurgen Laudus, Vice President of Materialise Manufacturing. “Together, we aim to drive technological advancements, respond more effectively to customer requirements, and shape the future of aerospace manufacturing.”
Russ Brigham, Programme Director at GKN Aerospace said: “Materialise is a valued AM supplier for GKN Aerospace and partnering with them on this ground-breaking technology has been a success for both companies. AM is out there and flying on aircraft around the world today and will be critical to achieve a more sustainable future of flight ahead.”
While the companies haven’t elaborated on how, the collaboration is said to align with sustainability trends and opportunities within the aerospace industry, focusing primarily on electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
GKN Aerospace supports 38 multi-technology manufacturing sites across 12 countries. Last year, TCT visited its Bristol, UK base which features multiple additive manufacturing systems and aims to "be ready for the next generation of aircraft.” The company also announced plans to establish its fourth Global Technology Centre via the relocation of its North American AM centre of excellence to a 100,000 square feet facility in Fort Worth, Texas, which will house research and development for GKN Aerospace's own laser metal deposition with wire (LMD-w) technology for large-scale titanium aerostructures.