3D Printing and ceramic matrix composites at the heart of Rolls Royce new strategy for aerospace

Rolls Royce aims to mark its contribution in the future of civil aerospace. The company will take advantage of 3D printing and new materials to help build civil aerospace.

The group will manufacture by 2025 a new core for Rolls-Royce UltraFan® engine design. The technology demonstrator engine, Advance3, integrates about 20,000 parts in total, and has already achieved more than 100 hours on test.

Images via Rolls Royce

Some of these parts have been additively manufactured and are made from ceramic matrix composites (CMC). Thanks to additive layers manufacturing (ALM), engineers did not only create new designs for parts, they will be able to reproduce them very quickly when required.

Engineers have downloaded millions of data points from the tests, which began last November and saw the engine achieve full power in July. Advance3 plays an important part in delivering the IntelligentEngine, Rolls-Royce’s vision for the future, as it builds on pioneering technology and digital capabilities to deliver important benefits for customers.”

Advantages of CMC and ALM in the manufacturing of Advance3

The advantage of CMC is that they can withstand extreme temperatures and need less cooling air, while enabling a significant weight reduction.

As for ALM, this technology enables the manufacturing of complex engine components with several parts to be fabricated in fewer parts of as a single one. If manufacturing times are drastically reduced, one big advantage for the company is reproducibility.

The success of the test of this demonstrator is a big step for the company who had already marked the industry in 2015, with its large 3-D printed aerospace structure within the Trent XWB-97 engine.

Ash Owen, Rolls-Royce, Chief Engineer, Civil Aerospace Demonstrator Programmes, said: “Testing so far has been completely seamless, which is an outstanding achievement when you realise that this is an engine incorporating a range of new technologies as well as a brand new core architecture. We have completed our first phase of testing and analysing the results right now. We like what we see from the CMC and ALM parts performance. ”

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