The defence industry is using additive manufacturing not just for supply of spare parts but also for production of new and vital components.

“In a recent project we showed that we can manage these challenges”, says Michel Honoré, Project Manager at FORCE Technology. In this presentation Michel compares cost and lead-time of an additive manufactured part for the Joint Strike Fighter with the equivalent CNC machined.

Our experience within metal additive manufacturing is quite extensive and the later years has been focused mainly on large scale AM. “With a robot and a multi kW laser source, we can manufacture big parts, up to 3 meters in length and 1 metric ton weight at our facility in Lindø.” For producing these kinds of applications, we apply a self-developed laser metal deposition system with wire and an industry standard DED-unit that uses powder.

Manufacturing F35 part with AM and CNC machining

"For manufacturing companies in the defence industry, additive manufacturing is a useful technology", Michel Honoré says. Besides for rebuilding worn out parts or building replacement parts for the aging jet fighters of the Danish air force, there are also benefits of using AM for manufacturing new parts. We have recently developed e real application for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. “If we compare traditional manufacturing, CNC machining, of this kind of parts with additive manufacturing, despite the challenges AM has a lot of benefits”, Michel Honoré says.

Overcome the challenges of a welding process

Do not underestimate the challenges, he says. Michel Honoré has a background as engineer in welding. “An AM part is a 100 percent welded part. And in aerospace applications you want to minimize everything that has to do with welding, because of the defects the welding process can introduce.”

In the mentioned project we showed that it is possible to overcome these problems and control the process to deliver good parts. So, with the right approach you can use laser metal deposition for building new parts for jet fighters. And by applying additive manufacturing, the benefits are both in time and money. Especially the latter.

F-35 - image courtesy of Lockheed-Martin

Case

Terma reduces materials and time spent through 3D print

Additive manufacturing reduces manufacturing time and material consumption for F-35 component by over 90%.