GKN Aerospace, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Form Partnership

The five-year partnership will work to develop laser metal deposition and electron beam melting processes for use in making large structural components for aircraft.

 

GKN Aerospace and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have signed a five-year research agreement focused on additive manufacturing. Utilizing the DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, this $17.8 million cooperative research and development agreement will focus on additive manufacturing processes, supporting progress towards their use in the manufacture of major, structural components for aircraft.

“We are extremely proud to work with the world-renowned Oak Ridge National Laboratory to speed progress towards fully industrializing these processes,” says Mike Grunza, CEO of GKN’s Aerostructures North America business. “Additive manufacturing will continue to increase its vital role in engineering design spanning civil and defense aviation, revolutionizing the design and manufacture of structures across the entire airframe and engine. Additive processes could cut material waste by as much as 90 percent and manufacturing times by around 50 percent, and will unlock new manufacturing horizons, allowing us to create complex components with no performance compromise.”

The first focus of the agreement will be to develop the laser metal deposition process with wire (LMD-w). LMD-w is an additive manufacturing technique that builds metal structures by using a laser to melt metal wire into beads onto a substrate layer by layer. The partnership aims to create a prototype machine that will manufacture complex medium- and large-scale aircraft structures in titanium. The second focus will develop the electron beam melting (EBM) process for producing precise, complex small- to medium-sized components. In EBM, metal powder is melted with an electron beam, again building up the component layer by layer. The partnership will support work already in progress, aiming to make this process ready for introduction into full-scale, high-volume aerospace production.

“GKN is a key manufacturing employer in the U.S., particularly in the St. Louis area. By partnering to address R&D challenges and opportunities, companies like GKN can ensure growth and employment in the United States for years to come,” says Mark Johnson, director of the Advanced Manufacturing Office at the DOE.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, visit ornl.gov.