Shaping a sustainable future

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing as it’s also known, is allowing our engineers to push the boundaries of design. Repeatable, complex parts can be made in a way that doesn’t cost the earth.

Futuristic parts for a future aircraft

 
3D printed bracket from the side with reflection on black surface BAE Systems engineers have demonstrated how exploiting the latest 3D printing capabilities with the latest digital modelling software can drive a more sustainable solution for manufacturing.  A canopy bracket made to form part of a future fighter fuselage concept section has been designed and produced using a start-to-end digital design process that drives a stronger, lighter, faster and cheaper solution compared to traditional manufacturing methods.   The 3D printed brackets weighs 30% less compared with traditional manufacturing methods and is the result of a combination of digital design solutions that have been combined for the first time. 
 
Working in collaboration with Siemens, engineers are utilising software which allows them to quickly iterate through thousands of possible designs which drives optimal strength and performance. The digital model is subjected to a series of simulated load calculations which means that in the design, material is positioned only where required, resulting in a lighter and more structurally efficient part.  
 
3D printed bracket from underneath with reflection on black surface Iain Minton, Technology Capability Delivery Director, BAE Systems Air said:
“We are constantly advancing our manufacturing capabilities to meet the needs of our customers today and in the future and that includes driving solutions that support our commitment to Net Zero operations by 2030.  Working with Siemens and other leading technology experts means we’re driving those sustainable solutions forward at a greater pace than ever before.”
 
The Canopy Hinge Bracket will form part of a representative fuselage for a Future Combat Aircraft and supports Team Tempest, a wider industry initiative committed to the delivered of an affordable future fighter aircraft for the UK. 
 

Putting matter where it matters

 
Engineers hold up a Typhoon cooling duct Harnessing the power of technologies such as additive manufacturing allows us to put matter where it matters. By rapidly reducing the time it takes to produce a part and only using the material that is needed, we’re able to drive more sustainable solutions into our manufacturing methods.  
 
Take for example the Typhoon cooling duct in this picture. Traditional manufacturing meant it was made of 16 parts assembled together.  By using additive manufacturing it’s now made in one piece and two aircraft sets can be printed in one build. Conventional manufacture methods that used to take weeks, is now reduced to days using this type of technology. By reducing the time it takes to manufacture and making it an easier and more repeatable process, additive manufacturing saves vast quantities of material, storage and logistics associated with traditional products. 
 
Processes like additive manufacturing allow us to be more agile. Engineers like Sean and Jenny are empowered to reimagine how we do things to help us transform our business into a more sustainable one. Our vision for a sustainable future can be seen becoming a reality in our Factory of the Future where, through collaboration with universities and wider industry we’re adopting digital tools and techniques so we can design, virtually test and validate designs and builds far more quickly than ever before, reducing the lifecycle carbon footprint.