The HORIZON (AM) project, a £13.4m research and development programme that aims to develop additive manufacturing (AM) techniques for aerospace parts, has held its fourth project meeting at Delcam’s Birmingham headquarters.
The GKN Aerospace-led project consortium consists of Delcam, Renishaw, Universities of Sheffield and Warwick, with backing from the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. The consortium is working towards achieving a process qualification level of TRL 6 (technology readiness level), the prototype stage of product development, using metal powder bed fusion technology with Inconel 718 and Ti-64.
Through ongoing experimentation the GKN Aerospace team, with support from the universities of Warwick and Sheffield, is currently developing quality assurance documents to attempt to standardise materials, production processes and product quality standards.
Representing GKN Aerospace, senior R&D project leader Tim Hope commented at the meeting: “Before you industrialise a process you have to have a simple workflow in place and that is the challenge we are currently dealing with in HORIZON. The robust and mature supply chains that aerospace organisations are used to dealing with don’t exist yet in the additive realm, and that’s a real stumbling block that we have to overcome.”
As part of the project, GKN Aerospace is looking to Delcam to develop its PartBuilder software within the context of additive manufacturing workflows. Delcam’s software solution unites additive and subtractive technologies, combining the geometrical freedom offered by AM with the surface finish and accuracy form subtractive manufacturing.
The software is also utilised during the design stage to investigate the optimisation strategies that are possible when producing parts using additive manufacturing processes. Optimised design meshes are then re-modelled in line with aerospace and manufacturing best practice using the remodelling capabilities of Delcam’s PowerSHAPE software package.