I-Break project aims to grow UK’s aerospace presence via Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing

September 4, 2023

The I-Break project aims to develop and manufacture major landing gear structural components using innovative techniques such as metal Additive Manufacturing (Courtesy WAAM3D)
The I-Break project aims to develop and manufacture major landing gear structural components using innovative techniques such as metal Additive Manufacturing (Courtesy WAAM3D)

A new £22.5 million project known as I-Break (Landing Gear Industrial Breakthroughs) has launched to develop lower-emission technology and increase the UK’s share of the global aerospace market. The project is led by Airbus Operations Ltd and involves collaboration between 15 other partners, including industry leaders, small businesses, academics, and research organisations.

The project aims to develop and manufacture major landing gear structural components using innovative techniques such as metal Additive Manufacturing, Hot Isostatic Pressing, and composites, which are expected to reduce aircraft time to market as well as industrial CO2 footprint by 30%. This is believed to be the first time such components will be produced using these techniques, with current methods using large-scale forging.

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I-Break is being delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme and is being funded from a larger UK government initiative in which £218 million has been allocated to ground-breaking R&D aerospace projects, supporting jobs and growth across the country. The joint commitment with industry to invest in new aircraft and manufacturing technologies is set to help secure at least £20 billion of further private investment in aerospace in the UK and support over 100,000 jobs.

Gary Elliot, CEO of the Aerospace Technology Institute recently said, “The investment through the ATI Programme that the Industry Minister, Nusrat Ghani announced at the Paris Air Show will support a range of world-class research projects in technologies to improve the sustainability of aerospace, from new design processes to new materials.”

Metal Additive Manufacturing company WAAM3D is a partner in the project, and its role will involve the industrialisation of higher productivity Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing variants; control of microstructure and mechanical properties for high-integrity structural applications; industrialisation of online non-destructive-testing (NDT) techniques; and production of demonstrator parts of relevant size and complexity on its upgraded RoboWAAM machines.

The I-Break project consists of several work packages; partners working with WAAM3D include:

  • Cranfield University is working on novel Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing processes and solutions, as well as the validation of deposition of new alloys of key interest
  • The University of Strathclyde is working on innovative on-line non-destructive testing techniques.
  • Peak NDT, is working on online NDT hardware systems

The I-Break project is currently due to be completed in 2026.


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