GKN Aerospace Cuts Assembly Tool Production Time with Stratasys Additive Manufacturing
Time cut from several weeks to a few hours using Stratasys Production 3D Printer
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3D printed tooling produced on the Stratasys F900 Production 3D Printer (Photo: Business Wire)
GKN serves over 90 percent of the world’s aircraft and engine manufacturers with aerostructures, engine systems and technologies.
“Since integrating the F900, we have dramatically reduced production-line downtime for certain teams and are enjoying a new found freedom to design complex tools,” he says.
Traditionally, the lead-time required to produce a metal or plastic replacement tool is several weeks. Now, with the ability to use an in-house production 3D printer to do the same job, the replacement burden has been removed and the responsiveness to manufacturing requirements improved.
“We can now cost-effectively produce tools for our operators within three hours,” Hope explains. “This saves critical production time, and by printing in engineering-grade thermoplastics, we can produce 3D printed tools with repeatable, predictable quality every time. All while matching the quality of a traditionally-produced tool, and reducing the costs and concessions compared to equivalent metallic tooling.”
Customized, complex tools that were previously impossible to make
“One of the key benefits of additive manufacturing is the creative freedom this technology affords users,” explains Hope. “The F900 offers the largest build-size of any FDM 3D printer enabling us to rapidly produce tools to meet any requirements. Most notably, complex geometries and cavities that would otherwise be problematic are now practical with the F900. We’re utilising it to design, and 3D print, previously inconceivable tools that enable us to manufacture complex parts that are uneconomical or just physically impossible by other methods.”
In addition to design freedom benefits,
To the future
Hope anticipates a greater move towards the use of FDM additive manufacturing to produce high-value, flight-critical, end-use composite parts.
He says. “GKN Aerospace’s product range is vast, and we see large-scale
FDM and carbon-reinforced parts as the future of additive manufacturing
in aerospace. By using
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