Honeywell Aerospace, the aerospace division of conglomerate Honeywell, has received a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for its first 3D printed flight-critical engine component. The part in question – a #4/5 bearing housing – is a key structural component of the ATF3-6 turbofan engine found in the Dassault Falcon 20G maritime patrol aircraft. The part is already in production and has been installed in an operational Falcon unit, with dozens more expected to be printed by the end of the year.
Jon Hobgood, Vice President of Manufacturing Engineering at Honeywell Aerospace, states: “This is a major milestone for Honeywell because it demonstrates the maturity of our Additive Manufacturing operations and paves the way for us to print more certified, flight-critical parts in the future. It also is a major win for the additive industry, as flight-critical parts face heavy scrutiny and high standards for qualification and installation on aircraft, but this shows it can be done.”
UK-based global major aerospace and defence group BAE Systems (BAES) has reported how the latest technologies are being used to drive forward, with unprecedented speed, Britain’s next-generation combat air system programme. Known as Tempest, this project is really benefitting from and making full use of digital twinning and three-dimensional (3D) printing (also known as additive manufacturing) technologies.
Digital twinning involves creating, in a computer system, an exact but virtual duplicate of a real-world entity and of all its systems, subsystems and components. Except that the real-world entity does not actually have to exist yet, as is the case with Tempest. The virtual duplicate can then be subjected to all sorts of simulated tests and evaluations, accelerating the design process while reducing costs.
ZAL Tech Center played host to this year’s Red Cabin Aircraft Cabin AM Conference.
I’ve said it before, since working in additive manufacturing I’ve adopted a bit of a habit of playing “spot the additive application” whenever I board a plane. Great for editorial, but quite annoying, I would imagine, for my other half whenever we go on holiday.
The same happened last week as I hopped on a flight to Hamburg for the second Red Cabin Aircraft Cabin Additive Manufacturing conference. As I settled into the brash yellow and blue my seats of my budget aircraft (the glamorous life of the media), I began circling with imaginary red pen all of the areas where AM might find a useful home from the tens of assembled parts I could see in the arm rest mechanism to the unnecessary tray tables that had been bolted shut to restrict use in the rows of emergency exit seats (it’s really almost TOO glamorous).
Two ferry rides later, it was exactly those types of applications that a collective of aerospace specialists and additive experts had gathered at the ZAL Tech Center, south of the River Elbe, to explore. If being privy to two days worth of brain storming sessions with a bunch of 3D printing-literate engineers shows you anything, it’s that those far flung ideas like personalised seats and bionic bathrooms are not a million miles away from reality. Though the suggestion of a real-life RoboCop may be taking things a little too far.
“3D printing will be a game-changer for the MRO industry worldwide.”
Pratt & Whitney is set to introduce a 3D printed aero-engine component into its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations by mid-2020 after a successful collaboration with ST Engineering.
The two companies came together to leverage 3D printing technology to facilitate faster and more flexible repair solutions, with contributions also coming from Pratt & Whitney’s repair specialist Component Aerospace Singapore.
Component Aerospace Singapore provides engine part repair for combustion chambers, fuel systems and manifolds; ST Engineering boasts ‘production-level 3D capabilities’ and experience applying 3D printing in land transport systems; and Pratt & Whitney is a specialist in design and engineering.
And the military wants you—to help it make spare parts for decades-old B-52 bombers and other planes.
GLENN HOUSE AND his colleagues spent more than four years making a new toilet for the B-1 Lancer. The challenge wasn’t fitting the john into the cockpit (it went behind the front left seat), but ensuring that every part could handle life aboard a plane that can pull 5 Gs, break the sound barrier, and spend hours in wildly fluctuating temperatures. The end result didn’t just have to work. It had to work without rattling, leaking, or revealing itself to enemy radar. Having it OK’d for use aboard the bomber was just as complex as making it. “Getting a part approved can take years,” says House, the cofounder and president of Walpole, Massachusetts-based 2Is.
Until last year, 2Is was in the military parts business, furnishing replacement bits for assorted defense equipment. (Pronounced “two eyes,” it sold off the parts business and now focuses on defense-related supply chain software.) Providing spare parts for the military is a peculiar niche of the economy. Things like aircraft and submarines spend decades in service, and the companies that made them or supplied their myriad parts often disappear long before their products retire. So when something needs a new knob, seat, or potty, the military often turns to companies that specialize in making them anew.
Blockchain takes to the skies as aerospace companies begin to make use of blockchain and 3D printing to streamline their supply chains
Blockchain, like many other emerging technologies, is enthusiastically touted as a solution to many of the world’s problems. Perhaps because of its relation to cryptocurrency or the narrative prophecies that surround them both, blockchain draws both criticism and praise from a staggering array of sectors.
However, with the big blockchain push from Chinese President Xi Jinping along with many tech, finance and industry giants piloting blockchain implementation, the number of use cases grows with each passing day. While cryptocurrency more often draws ire from the mainstream financial world, it seems that for blockchain, the sky’s the limit — but not for long.
Air New Zealand has trialed a blockchain system from aircraft-parts maker Moog. The solution supplied a 3D-printed replacement part for a flight from Auckland to Los Angeles, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported yesterday.
Moog’s system uses a combination of blockchain and 3-D printing to expedite the parts replacement process and comply with aviation regulations by ensuring it’s an approved design.
“The idea is that I’m going to stock those parts digitally and turn them into physical goods when I need them,” said George Small, the CTO of Moog told the WSJ. The firm achieved $2.9 billion dollars in sales for 2019.
The aviation sector today faces many challenges. From geopolitical tensions, to an ongoing US-China trade war, as well as fluctuating oil prices, the sector has seen its fair share of hardships. Still, the aviation sector has found its way of out of the fire.
“The aviation industry has been thoroughly enjoying an extended bull run for the past decade,” KPMG noted in their 2019 Aviation Industry Leaders Report. “Airlines have had access to cheap finance as tough competition pushed down lease rates and debt costs.”
“How long more can this bull run?” KPMG continued. “It has been the question asked for the last number of years. The overall impression heading into 2019 is that while industry fundamentals remain strong – in particular high passenger growth, though cooling, – there are signs that building geopolitical, macroeconomic and industry headwinds will impact the industry over the next 24 months. Varying political tensions and potential trade wars, rising interest rates, volatile oil costs, a strong US dollar, slowing economies, increasing production rates, and MRO and infrastructure capacity constraints are all impacting the aviation sector.”
I’ve spent 30 years optimizing materials for use in aerospace and automotive applications, looking at how we design, make and use them. My latest research focuses on the additive manufacturing (AM) of alloys for use in aerospace applications. We’ve received a £2.6 million (US$3.2 million) grant for the next ten years which will enable us to develop AM alloys for industrial applications. We’re using one of the world’s most advanced tools to help investigate the challenges associated with AM alloys – Diamond Light Source the UK’s National synchrotron science facility at Harwell near Oxford. The synchrotron lets us see inside the alloys as the AM machine makes components.
The synchrotron emits electrons at the speed of light and bends them using electromagnetics to create a continuous beam of light at wavelengths from near infrared to hard x-rays. At the point where the beam of electrons bends it gives us a flux of light up to 10 million times brighter than the sun.
A key lesson learned talking with aerospace 3D printing companies at PAS 2019, that can be applied to all industrial segments
The Paris Air Show was a huge success for the largest aerospace players and for many innovative aerospace 3D printing companies. The aviation and space industries are rocketing toward booming growth with no slow down anywhere on the horizon. While additive manufacturing is still just a tiny – to use a euphemism – segment of aerospace manufacturing, all leading companies in aerospace are very much invested in developing it. The reason may be found in one of the largest deals ever closed during the show: the $55 billion in orders that CFM – a joint venture between GE and Safran – received for its LEAP engine. The LEAP engine is super efficient and is enabling a new generation of single-aisle jets – such as the Airbus321neo flown by French operator Le Compagnie in its new all-business flights – to make trips across the Atlantic on a single tank of fuel.
Last April, for instance, a LEAP-engine-powered Airbus A321neo LR loaded with 162 dummy passengers and 16 crew completed a test flight from Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, to the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean that lasted 11 hours and covered 5,466 miles. It was the longest distance flight in the certification process of the A321neo. At the Paris Air Show Airbus formally unveiled a new long-range A321neo, officially designated the A321XLR, which will become available from 2023. The twinjet will have a maximum take-off weight of 101t and a range of 4,700nm compared with the 4,000nm of the current 97t long-range A321LR variant. GE and most operators expect that these efficient single-aisle aircraft will make up the bulk of order for the foreseeable future.