Royal Air Force exploring Additive Manufacturing for aerospace parts

July 21, 2023

July 21, 2023

Examples of additively manufactured components selected by the RAF (Courtesy AS1 Kimberley Waterson/RAF)
Examples of additively manufactured components selected by the RAF (Courtesy AS1 Kimberley Waterson/RAF)

As reported in Aviation Week, the UK Royal Air Force is said to be experimenting with Additive Manufacturing in hopes to provide a way to produce urgently needed aerospace parts. Project Warhol, a team of four focused on Additive Manufacturing, has been funded by the Rapid Capabilities Office and the UK Defence Innovation Fund.

It is hoped that Additive Manufacturing could help reduce the reliance on contested logistics systems and make platforms more readily available when deployed overseas. Establishing Additive Manufacturing capabilities on the Royal Air Force’s bases would build on the capacity provided by station workshops performing precision metalwork.

Reportedly, the team hoped to have already flown its first in-house-produced part, a blanking plate, on an in-service Airbus Puma helicopter prior to the Royal International Air Tattoo. However, the component is undergoing a clearance process with military airworthiness authorities and is expected to fly shortly.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter
Sign up

Chief Technician Mike Matthias, told Aviation Week, “This is not about producing main spars for combat aircraft, but creating components we can then ship to support forward assets.”

The team is believed to be developing its capability by using an Electron Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-EB) machine for titanium, and a Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) machine for aluminium parts. However, it is aware of the challenges in certification and intellectual property when producing alternative parts to those provided by OEMs. One possibility is to purchase the digital design files from the manufacturer for future iterations of the team, allowing production of the part as needed.

Project Warhol has reportedly been tasked with assessing the technology until March 2024, with the potential to extend the project. A final assessment is due by March 2025, at which point a decision will be made regarding AM’s capability within the RAF’s core budget.

Download Metal AM magazine
Examples of additively manufactured components selected by the RAF (Courtesy AS1 Kimberley Waterson/RAF)
July 21, 2023

In the latest issue of Metal AM magazine

Download PDF

Extensive AM industry news coverage, as well as the following exclusive deep-dive articles:

  • Kennametal: The story of the successful commercialisation of AM hardmetal and steel solutions
  • General Atomics Aeronautical on metal Additive Manufacturing’s place at the centre of the digital manufacturing revolution
  • Adrian Keppler on Additive Manufacturing: An insider’s assessment from the outside
  • Metal AM’s journey to industrialisation: Are we there yet? And what does the destination even look like?
  • A stronger future, layer by layer: How next-generation software will drive adoption of metal AM
  • Volkmann: Making the case for the complete automation of powder handling in AM
  • Metal AM on an industrial scale: GKN Additive draws on decades of sintering expertise to commercialise Binder Jetting
  • International Conference on Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing: Highlights from EBAM 2023

The world of metal AM to your inbox

Don't miss any new issue of Metal AM magazine, and get the latest industry news. Sign up to our twice weekly newsletter.

Sign up

Discover our magazine archive…

The free to access Metal Additive Manufacturing magazine archive offers unparalleled insight into the world of metal Additive Manufacturing from a commercial and technological perspective through:

  • Reports on visits to leading metal AM part manufacturers and industry suppliers
  • Articles on technology and application trends
  • Information on materials developments
  • Reviews of key technical presentations from the international conference circuit
  • International industry news

All past issues are available to download as free PDFs or view in your browser.

Browse the archive

Looking for AM machines, metal powders or part manufacturing services?

Discover suppliers of these and more in our comprehensive advertisers’ index and buyer’s guide, available in the back of Metal AM magazine.

  • AM machines
  • Process monitoring & calibration
  • Heat treatment & sintering
  • HIP systems & services
  • Pre- & post-processing technology
  • Powders, powder production and analysis
  • Part manufacturers
  • Consulting, training & market data
View online
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap