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The HORIZON (AM) project, a £13.4m research and development programme that aims to develop additive manufacturing (AM) techniques into viable production processes for aerospace parts, chose Delcam’s Birmingham headquarters for its fourth project meeting.

The GKN Aerospace-led project consortium consists of Delcam, Renishaw, Universities of Sheffield and Warwick, with backing from the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. The consortium is working towards achieving a process qualification level of TRL 6 (technology readiness level), the prototype stage of product development, using metal powder bed fusion technology with Inconel 718 and Ti-64.

Representing GKN Aerospace, senior R&D project leader Tim Hope updated the group about his teams’ latest studies using the various additive manufacturing machines, one of which is supplied by partner Renishaw. Through ongoing experimentation the GKN Aerospace team, with support from the universities of Warwick and Sheffield, is currently developing quality assurance documents to attempt to standardise materials, production processes and product quality standards.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Hope spoke of the importance of normalising the additive manufacturing process and simplifying workflows.  “Before you industrialise a process you have to have a simple workflow in place and that is the challenge we are currently dealing with in HORIZON. The robust and mature supply chains that aerospace organisations are used to dealing with don’t exist yet in the additive realm, and that’s a real stumbling block that we have to overcome.”

Going forward, GKN Aerospace is looking to Delcam to develop its PartBuilder software within the context of additive manufacturing workflows. Currently in development, Delcam’s software solution unites additive and subtractive technologies, combining the geometrical freedom offered by AM with the surface finish and accuracy that is only achievable through subtractive manufacturing. In order to further develop the software, various demonstrators have been selected by the team to use as case studies within the project.

The HORIZON (AM) partners also enjoyed a tour of Delcam’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility where a number of demonstrator parts for the project were being machined by Delcam staff on a Mazak VARIAXIS 630 5X. The machining of these components is helping the consortium to identify the best manufacturing workflow and the requirements for future enhancements to PartBuilder.

The software is also utilised during the design stage to investigate the optimisation strategies that are possible when producing parts using additive manufacturing processes. Optimised design meshes are then re-modelled in line with aerospace and manufacturing best practice using the remodelling capabilities of Delcam’s PowerSHAPE software package.
 
For further information on the HORIZON (AM) project, please contact Annalisa Soldani at Delcam – email: annalisa.soldani@autodesk.com

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