A Copernican revolution in machining
The advent of additive manufacturing is a radical game changer With traditional manufacturing methods, parts are made by removing material, mainly through machining. Just like with mass-market 3D printers, this new technology lets you make a part through successive layers, from a digital model: the raw material (metal, ceramic or polymer powder) is deposited on a work surface in layers that are 20 to 100 microns thick, fused together with a laser or beam of electrons. The advantage of this procedure is that it is quick and flexible, in particular for producing or repairing parts on demand. But it also adds the ability to make complex forms in a single block, which was impossible to do by subtracting materials.
15 additive manufacturing machines at Safran
A few concrete applications at Safran
Additive manufacturing procedures have been used in the Group’s plants for several years and were developed by a specialized team of twenty engineers at the Safran Tech R&T Paris-Saclay center. Their role is to conduct research (powders, metallurgy, control, digital simulations, etc.), and to provide support to the Group’s companies in the design and certification of more and more complex components that have the same level of reliability as their traditional equivalents. Among the parts already industrialized:
- Fuel injectors and combustion chamber mixer heads manufactured by selective laser melting (SLM) for the Arrano and Ardiden 3 turbine engines (Safran Helicopter Engines, Bordes);
- Most of the Saphir 4.2 auxiliary power units (APU), obtained through laser powder bed fusion (Safran Power Units, Toulouse)
- The lubrication unit for the Leap 1A engine, manufactured by SLM (Safran Aero Boosters)
- Turbine housing equipment for the CFM56-7 (1,000 parts since January 2018) and Leap 1B engines since March 2019.
The Safran Aircraft Engines sites in Villaroche and Gennevilliers already use additive manufacturing to assist with their industrial processes: bi-component molds for the cire perdue foundry, the manufacture of small tools, quick prototyping of tools for testing prior to metal machining.
This year Safran has announced the construction, in 2020, of the Campus Additive Manufacturing Plant, which will bring together all of the Group's additive manufacturing skills and resources. The site will be built in Haillan, near Bordeaux, close to the historic location of Safran Ceramics. This 68-million euro project, 10% is provided through the support of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, will help generate 200 jobs. The operational launch of this "campus plant" spread over 10,000m² is scheduled for 2021, with optimum capacity to be reached in 2023. By bringing together research, development, prototyping and mass production of 3D parts at one site, the Safran Group is providing itself with the human (experts, designers and producers at a single site resulting in increased skills development) and industrial resources (cutting-edge machine pool) needed to accelerate the contribution of additive manufacturing to its products.
Safran is accelerating its research into Additive Manufacturing through the joint Additive Factory Hub platform located at Paris-Saclay since 2018. The first AFH machines are operational and are producing the first results. The extent of the AFH, industrial and academic cluster, associated with equipment hyper-instrumentation will accelerate the achievement of major milestones in the deployment of Additive Manufacturing. The 10 Members of the AFH have launched the construction of a new building to expand the spectrum of technologies handled by the platform.
© Adrien Daste / Safran
© Adrien Daste / Safran
© Cyril Abad / CAPA Pictures / Safran