BAE Systems aims to reduce cost & increase speed of combat aircraft manufacture through Renishaw 3D printing partnership

BAE Systems is to work with Renishaw in a bid to develop additive manufacturing capability that will reduce the cost and increase the speed of manufacturing future combat aircraft.

A Memorandum of Understanding signed by both companies has set a framework to ‘maximise the application’ of additive technology and opens up the potential for joint research and development in the future.

The partnership was struck at BAE’s Samlesbury, Lancashire manufacturing facility which is already home to a number of Renishaw’s metal additive manufacturing systems. At this location, BAE has set up 1,000 square-metre New product Development & Process Development Centre where staff test emerging technologies, such as 3D printing and Virtual Reality, with a view to incorporating them into the company’s aircraft design and manufacture operations.

BAE Systems has been exploring the potential of 3D printing technology for more than 20 years, has recently harnessed the technology to produced standard components for its Typhoon fighter aircraft and is creating prototypes for new technology concepts for its Tempest future combat air system. A recent deal with Stratasys also allows them early and increased access to the vendor’s new additive processes and materials.

The company believes investing in additive manufacturing, applying the technology in its design validation and manufacturing processes, and securing partnerships with leading 3D printing vendors helps to ensure it is at the ‘cutting edge of aerospace manufacturing’.

“Additive manufacturing has and will continue to deliver significant benefits to our sector,” commented Andy Schofield, Manufacturing & Materials Strategy and Technology Director at BAE Systems. “Renishaw is a world leader in additive manufacturing, and we have been impressed with the quality of parts produced on its machines. This agreement allows us to create a more open and collaborative environment to share ideas and knowledge. In an environment of fast developing technology and challenged budgets, collaboration and innovation are absolutely essential in order to retain cutting edge capability. I’m really excited by the potential this partnership has to help us deliver that.”

“We have a great relationship already with BAE Systems, developed over many years through the application of our metrology products and have more recently worked with them on evaluating and understanding the performance envelope of our AM systems,” added Renishaw CEO Will Lee. “We are delighted that they have been impressed with our systems, and this, together with our vision for AM development, has led to strengthening of our collaboration. We look forward to the exciting opportunities that this strategic collaboration presents to further develop AM technologies for demanding aerospace production applications.”