Airbus partners with Renishaw to explore 3D printing aircraft wings
This collaboration will explore aerodynamic modelling of wings and the potential for integrating complex 3D-printed components in wing structures.
Renishaw is bringing its additive manufacturing expertise to Airbus. In a £17.7 million project, the two companies are exploring new and innovative ways to design and manufacturing aircraft wings.
The project is called Wing Design Methodology Validation – or WINDY and is a joint industry-UK government investment project. With over 30,000 new aircraft expected to enter into service in the next 15 years, Airbus is looking to reduce its development time by leveraging 3D printing technology.
The project will be led by a team from Airbus’ Filton, Bristol, global centre of excellence and Renishaw will provide its expertise in metal additive manufacturing and precision measurement.
“Aircraft wing design is a hugely complicated process and this project will look at ways we can increase the robustness of the design and test process while also reducing the time this takes,” said Airbus Chief Operating Officer Tom Williams.
The WINDY project will explore aerodynamic modelling of wings, the potential for use of complex 3D-printed components in wing structures and the possibility of innovative loads control on aircraft for better efficiency in flight.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to work with Airbus and other project partners to develop processes that will fully test the capabilities of additive manufacturing,” said Clive Martell, Renishaw’s Head of Global Additive Manufacturing. “If we can highlight the design and production benefits of this technology in one of the most demanding industry sectors, then it paves the way for greater adoption of AM for serialised production in many other applications.”
Integrating 3D printed components into the design can help lead to lighter more efficient wing structures. With the push towards more fuel-efficient aircraft, this project will help grow UK’s global leadership in aircraft wing design.