3D printed part - credit: GKN Aerospace

Multinational aerospace and defense technology company Northrop Grumman has chosen GKN Aerospace, a company that designs and manufactures aerostructures and engine systems, to help with the production of parts for a solid rocket motor demonstrator.

The first Solid Motor Annual Rocket Technology Demonstrator (SMART Demo) successfully tested a new motor that was developed in less than a year. That SMART Demo proves the capabilities of AM technologies leveraged by GKN Aerospace, and their ability to reduce production lead times by up to 75 percent.

AM will still be part of the manufacturing process for this solid rocket demonstrator. The production will take place at GKN Aerospace’s new Global Technology Centre in Fort Worth, Texas. A key technology the manufacturer plans to use is large-scale laser metal deposition with wire (LMD-w) as it can optimize product weight, while ensuring efficient use of high-cost alloys and significantly reduced lead times.

Shawn Black, President of GKN Aerospace’s Defense Business, said, “We are delighted to collaborate with Northrop Grumman on SMART Demo. Programmes like this underscore the significant benefits additive manufacturing can bring, such as reducing production costs and lead times for mission-critical products that support our Armed Forces and the commercial aviation industry. We are committed to innovation and to rapidly advance this technology to support our customers and to provide greater resilience across the aerospace and defence industrial base.”

GKN Aerospace has been advocating for AM for around two decades, through prominent research and technology centres in Sweden and the UK, as well as the USA. This announcement follows a joint investment of £50 million with the Swedish Energy Agency into cutting-edge additive technology in Trollhättan, Sweden.

GKN Aerospace has been a supplier to Northrop Grumman for many years. In 2022 GKN Aerospace showcased its additive manufacturing leadership with an 8-foot titanium demonstrator, the largest AM component it had ever produced, in partnership with NGC.

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