BAE Systems and Renishaw to develop 3D printing capability for the defence and aerospace sector

BAE Systems and Renishaw have signed an agreement to work together on the development of additive manufacturing (AM) capability for the defence and aerospace sector. The collaboration is designed to help improve performance, reduce costs and speed up manufacturing processes on future combat aircraft.

As part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the framework has been laid for the two companies to bring together expertise in AM to maximise the application of this emerging manufacturing technique. The agreement also opens up opportunities for joint research and development.

The MoU was signed by Andy Schofield, manufacturing and materials strategy and technology director for BAE Systems, and Will Lee, chief executive at Renishaw, during a visit to the former’s manufacturing facilities in Samlesbury, Lancashire. The site is already home to several Renishaw AM machines, which form part of a 1 000m2 New Product Development & Process Development Centre (NPPDC), where the latest emerging technologies and processes are explored and tested for application into aircraft design and manufacture.

BAE Systems began research into AM techniques more than two decades ago, and is currently using the technology to make production-standard components for the Typhoon fighter aircraft. AM is also applied in the rapid prototyping of new technology concepts as part of a drive to deliver Tempest, a capable, affordable and exportable next-generation future combat air system.

Says Schofield: “AM has and will continue to deliver significant benefits to our sector. Renishaw is a world leader in this technology and we’ve been impressed with the quality of parts produced on its machines. This agreement allows us to create a more open and collaborative environment to share ideas and knowledge. In an era of fast-developing technology and challenged budgets, collaboration and innovation are absolutely essential in order to retain cutting-edge capability.”

Lee adds: “We already have a great relationship with BAE Systems, developed over many years through the application of our metrology products, and have more recently worked with them on evaluating and understanding the performance envelope of our AM systems. We’re delighted that they have been impressed with our systems, and this, together with our vision for AM development, has led to the strengthening of our collaboration.”