Liebherr and Airbus reach Additive Manufacturing milestone with EASA-approved flex shaft

June 7, 2024

Caption: Liebherr is celebrating another Additive Manufacturing milestone with the news that this titanium flex shaft is entering serial production for Airbus (Courtesy Liebherr-Aerospace)
Liebherr is celebrating another Additive Manufacturing milestone with the news that this titanium flex shaft is entering serial production for Airbus (Courtesy Liebherr-Aerospace)

Liebherr-Aerospace, Toulouse, France, has celebrated a new milestone with the approval of a metal additively manufactured flex shaft, a component with a high degree of complexity produced from titanium. The part will now enter serial production for Airbus, following approval by the aircraft producer and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Leveraging the design freedom that Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) Additive Manufacturing offers, Liebherr was able to replace an assembly of seven parts, formerly conventionally manufactured, with just one single additively manufactured component. The reduced number of parts leads to improved reliability and a significant weight reduction.

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The flex shaft is part of the Airbus A350 high lift system, where it will be integrated in the active differential gearbox of the flap system. The flex shaft transmits the rotary movement to a position sensor and thus compensates for an angle and axis misalignment between gearbox and sensor.

Liebherr-Aerospace already has a history of additively manufacturing aerospace applications. At the beginning of 2019, it commenced the serial production of additively manufactured parts with the introduction of an AM proximity sensor bracket for the A350 nose leading gear. This bracket was reportedly the first-ever introduced Airbus system part qualified for titanium Additive Manufacturing.

Compared to the additively manufactured parts previously developed and manufactured by Liebherr, the flex shaft has a higher degree of complexity and, states the company, represents the next step towards applications in highly integrated systems.

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