EWIRA - External wing for regional aircraft demonstrator
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EWIRA - External wing for regional aircraft demonstrator

Design and manufacture of a safety critical aerospace component using additive manufacturing

Horizon 2020 Clean Sky 2 is an ongoing project that aims to evaluate the maturity of Additive Manufacturing (AM) for future use in safety critical aerospace applications. This is to be achieved through the re-design and manufacture of the aileron hinge brackets. The aileron forms part of the aircraft's control system.

The MTC is aiming to demonstrate weight reduction through the application of innovative design optimisation techniques.

The Challenge

Some of the barriers to the adoption of AM for full scale production includes, process repeatability, reliability, robustness and standardisation.

The key challenges within EWIRA:

  • Validation of the design and manufactured component to enable flight testing.
  • Obtain a fully optimised lightweight design.
  • Surface improvement to achieve fatigue requirements.

The Solution

  • The traditional bracket re-designed utilising novel topology optimisation techniques to ensure the maximum design freedom of the AM process.
  • Electron beam melting using Ti-6Al-4V selected as the manufacturing method.
  • Establishing and control of key process variables to ensure coupon and component manufacture to fixed process.
  • Perform a material test program enabling generation of design allowable’s.
  • Demonstration through flight testing.

The Outcomes to Date

Bracket design optimised using a strut based design to achieve 15% weight reduction.

  • Fixed manufacturing process established and implemented.
  • Manufacture of test coupons to generate a full set of design allowables.
  • Evaluation of a number of surface finishing techniques with a view to improve fatigue performance.

The Benefits

  • Validation of alternative design optimisation techniques.
  • Greater understanding of the EBM key process variables and defect classification.
  • Establish the technology readiness for the use of AM in critical aerospace applications.