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Researchers join government-backed aerospace consortium

Dr Simon LeighThe University of Warwick is to join a consortium, led by GKN Aerospace, in a 3 ½ year, £13.4M research and development programme called Horizon (AM) that builds on GKN Aerospace’s extensive and fast-developing additive manufacturing capability.

Backed by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and funded jointly by industry and the UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB), Horizon (AM) will take a number of promising additive manufacturing (AM) techniques from research and development through to viable production processes.

The consortium aims to establish processes able to create components that could be as much as 50% lighter than their conventional counterparts, with complex geometries that cannot be cost effectively manufactured today.

Dr Simon Leigh, of the University of Warwick’s School of Engineering, said of the University’s role as part of Horizon AM’s work would be “to explore some of the future ways in which additive manufacturing could be applied to future aerospace component production”.

The programme will focus initially on using AM techniques to create near net shape parts which require very little machining. This will dramatically improve the ‘buy to fly’ ratio of the part by reducing the considerable cost in time and material wastage associated with the conventional machining of metal forgings. With material wastage as high as 90% for some parts, a significant reduction here will also provide major environmental benefits.

Rich Oldfield, Technical Director, GKN Aerospace explains: “AM incorporates a range of hugely promising manufacturing technologies that the UK aerospace sector must fully understand and exploit if it is to retain its position as the largest national aerospace industry outside the USA. This strong consortium has the expertise and understanding to continue the process of industrialising these technologies for use in both current programme updates and next-generation aircraft.”

Commenting on the strength of the UK’s Aerospace Industry Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said “Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that it was “going from strength to strength and helping our economic recovery.

“We are the number one aerospace industry in Europe and second only to the United States globally”, said Mr Clegg. “I want to ensure the UK remains at the cutting edge of aerospace innovation, which is why I am pleased to announce that we are investing £154 million for research to explore new technologies like the 3D printing of plane parts and creating lighter, greener aircraft”.

31 July 2014




Tom Frew: International Press Officer,

University of Warwick

Tel: 024 7657 5910

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Email: a dot t dot frew at warwick dot ac dot uk