GKN Aerospace has announced the commissioning of what is reported to be the world’s largest known laser-based Directed Energy Deposition Additive Manufacturing (DED-LB) production cell. As part of its new Global Technology Center in Texas, USA, the new installation will enable the production of titanium components up to 5.6 m x 2.5 m in size.
Known as Cell 3, the new plant will enable the Additive Manufacturing of safety critical air and space structures, as well as defence and civil platform parts replacement, from more sustainable and efficient methods. Using titanium wire feedstock, the Cell 3 will feature a 20 kW laser, up to 10-axes of motion and a large-area inert environment of around 330 m3.
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Shawn Black, the company’s president of defence, stated, “Cell 3 will create opportunities to deliver a whole new level of additively manufactured titanium components to sizes needed for safety-critical air and space structures. We are very excited to bring this new equipment to our current line of product development LMD-w [wire-based DED-LB] cells in the US. This will accelerate the introduction of our technology into production while helping to support the US supply chain and reducing reliance on foreign-sourced materials.”
“LMD-w is a game-changer and a more sustainable alternative for production in a wide range of civil and defence structures,” he continued. “The method has shown its proficiencies in producing components faster and with significantly reduced lead times. We also look forward to expanding this technology’s role in sustainability and efficiencies through additional collaborations with customers and universities.”
GKN Aerospace currently has additively manufacturing components flying on several different major platforms in the commercial, military, rotorcraft, business jet and space markets. Future developments in the company’s AM workflow for large-scale aerostructures are expected to include: process improvement, modelling & simulation, non-destructive evaluation methods, in-situ monitoring and the transition of technology development into production solutions. In 2022 the company revealed a 2.5 m titanium structure produced in Cell 2.