GKN Aerospace has added what is described as the largest known laser directed energy deposition additive manufacturing (AM) cell to its new Global Technology Center in Texas, USA. Cell 3 can enable large scale additive manufacturing of titanium aircraft structures through the process of laser metal deposition with wire (LMD-w).

In such a process, a wire is melted locally with the laser beam and applied to the component surface in specific layers. This way, the desired components or structures can be built up layer by layer.

GKN Aerospace has been involved in LMD-w technology for two decades; it has begun with its aero-engine systems business.

According to Shawn Black, GKN Aerospace’s President of Defence, “LMD-w is a game-changer and a more sustainable alternative for production in a wide range of civil and defence structures. The method has shown its proficiencies in producing components faster and with significantly reduced lead times. We also look forward to expanding this technology’s role in sustainability and efficiencies through additional collaborations with customers and universities.”

 In 2022, GKN Aerospace unveiled a 2.5 meter milestone titanium structure developed in Cell 2. The new cell will enable the development of five-metre titanium components.

GKN Aerospace’s Cell 3 features include:

  • 20KW laser
  • Up to 10-axes of motion
  • Large area inert environment (nearly 12,000 cubic meters)
  • 5.6m x 2.5m max substrate size
  • Two-sided or rotary deposition

GKN Aerospace already has additive manufacturing components flying on several different major platforms today, across the commercial, military, rotorcraft, business jet and space markets. Future collaborations of AM for large-scale aerostructures will include: process improvement, modelling & simulation, non-destructive evaluation methods, in-situ monitoring and the transition of technology development into production solutions.

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Corporate communication and marketing expert by training at 3D Adept, Kety is currently leading the publication’s editorial and content activities. She has a unique gift for knowing how to grab an audience's attention on insights that matter – in this case, everything related to additive manufacturing. She believes that a wide range of innovations still have to be discovered about the technologies that shape the world of tomorrow and she has made it her objective at 3D ADEPT Media.