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News

Rolls-Royce to fly Trent XWB with largest-ever 3D-printed part

Rolls-Royce : 11 March, 2015  (Company News)
Rolls-Royce recognises the potential of additive layer manufacturing ALM for producing aero-engine parts, using metal powder melted by electron beam and built ultra-thin layer by layer into complex shapes. The machines are sourced from Swedish company Arcam. Additive layer manufacturing has been used to construct a 1.5m diameter and 0.5m thick titanium front bearing housing (FBH) containing 48 aerofoils. It is held inside a Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engine.
The bearing marks the first time ALM has been used to produce such a load-bearing component, rather than by casting or forging. The fundamental research behind the process has been carried out at the University of Sheffield.  Iain Todd, Professor of Metallurgy and Materials Processing said: "The barrier has not been the maturity of the technology itself, but the huge programme of testing, research and quality assurance that is needed for a new manufacturing process to gain approval. "
 
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). It will be the first time one has been airborne. The UK propulsion company 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.
 
Rolls-Royce is not new to ALM, having used it to repair components for at least five years.
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