Rolls-Royce will flight-test later this year a Trent XWB-97 engine fitted with what it claims is the largest component ever built using additive layer manufacturing (ALM).
The titanium structure is a 1.5m-diameter and 0.5m-thick front bearing housing containing 48 aerofoils, manufactured using the ALM technique, also known as 3D printing.
The UK propulsion giant has already ground-tested several XWB-97s – the sole engine for the in-development Airbus A350-1000 – containing the tractor-tyre-sized part, but no engine including such a large ALM component has ever powered an aircraft in flight, said Rolls-Royce.
Although production XWB-97s will not contain the ALM component – at least not initially – the Derby-based company says the project is a key step towards proving the industrial viability of the process, which it says could trim 30% from "like-for-like manufacturing lead time".
"It is ideal for prototyping. Shortening the manufacturing time by almost a third gives us more time to design, which is always a benefit," said Alan Newby, chief engineer for future programs and technology. "We are also able to produce designs that we wouldn't otherwise be able to do."
Rolls-Royce is not new to ALM – a technique by which metal powder is melted by electron beam and built ultra-thin layer by layer into complex shapes – having used it to repair components for at least five years. "We are using this knowledge now to build up to bigger components," said Newby.
All pictures Source: VadeAviones.com
Based on the article “Rolls-Royce to fly Trent XWB with largest-ever 3D-printed part” published in FlightGlobal.