ASCO starts pilot project on 3D printing in aerospace industry

With the support of Sirris ASCO optimised an existing component of an airplane wing for production via 3D printing. The result is a component which does not only combine several functionalities but which is also 30 percent lighter and, therefore, cost-saving. The buy-to-fly ratio was also reduced from 17 to 1.5.

Global player ASCO designs and manufactures a wide variety of products for the aerospace industry, ranging from lift mechanisms to complex mechanical components and assemblies. The R&D department of this multinational with its headquarters in Brussels works on advanced designs for laminar wing profiles.

What implications is 3D printing likely to have for the aerospace industry? That was the question the ASCO R&D team wanted to fully investigate. During a pilot project, the team focused on a gooseneck bracket, a part of an airplane wing that looks like the neck of a goose. This static bracket is surrounded by other, moving components of the Krueger flap, an adjustable flap on the front of the wing that adjusts the airflow and so raises or reduces the level of lift. ASCO called in Sirris to examine how the gooseneck bracket could be manufactured and refined using 3D printing.

From blueprint to final design

Adhering to strict design guidelines, our Additive Manufacturing team worked with ASCO's R&D team on developing various 3D blueprints for the new gooseneck bracket. After a selection process, the final design was prepared for production via a process called selective laser melting, in which a laser melts layers of metal powder into a single unit. The geometry of this new design was then thoroughly examined to check whether it affected the post-processing of the component.

More details are provided in this ‘Customer Story’ by Solid Thinking, one of the project partners (English), and in our annual report of 2016.

Your own design for AM?

The project also gave ASCO the opportunity to evaluate the maturity of 3D printing and to learn to better adjust its designs to this new technique from the early design phase. (Re)designing a component for additive manufacturing is a skill that needs to be acquired. Do you want to this competence in your company? The next masterclass 'Design for additive manufacturing' starts on 25 April 2018 (2 days). This masterclass will give you the knowledge and insight needed to design components specifically for AM, which will allow you to take full advantage of this technology.