GKN Aerospace and Northrop Grumman collaborate to produce large-scale titanium aerostructure

September 22, 2022

GKN Aerospace additively manufactured this titanium aerostructure component measuring approx. 2.5 metres in collaboration with Northrop Grumman (Courtesy GKN Aerospace)
GKN Aerospace additively manufactured this titanium aerostructure component measuring approx. 2.5 m in collaboration with Northrop Grumman (Courtesy GKN Aerospace)

GKN Aerospace has collaborated with aircraft manufacturer Northrop Grumman in the production of an additively manufactured titanium aerostructure component measuring approximately 2.5 metres – reportedly the largest AM aerostructure produced by GKN Aerospace.

The component was additively manufactured from approximately 45 kg of titanium using a wire-based laser Directed Energy Deposition (DED) process at GKN Aerospace’s AM Centre of Excellence, located at the US Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

GKN explained that this type of demonstration part is vital to enabling full industrialisation of the wire-based laser DED Additive Manufacturing process for aerostructure components which feature complex geometry found in titanium aerostructure designs.

“This collaborative milestone demonstrated cutting-edge manufacturing methods to build large aircraft components,” stated Francisco Flores, vice president, production operations, Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems. “Additive Manufacturing technologies, combined with digital transformation and analysis capabilities are enabling novel approaches to design and advanced manufacturing processes.”

GKN Aerospace opened its second US-based laser DED Additive Manufacturing cell at Oak Ridge in 2019 focused on research and development of large-scale structural aircraft components. A third AM cell is expected to follow before the end of 2022.

Shawn Black, president of GKN’s Aerospace Defense Business, commented, “This achievement further advances our research into laser metal deposition, expanding on the material science and process development for aerostructure and engine components. We appreciate the opportunity to work with Northrop Grumman to accomplish this milestone in large-scale Additive Manufacturing.”


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