French engine and engineering company Saffron (SAF.PA) inaugurated an Additive Manufacturing Campus, a center of excellence for 3D printing, in Haillan. Were present at the grand opening ceremony Olivier Andriès, CEO of Safran, and Roland Lescure, French Minister of Industry, among other personalities.
The 12,500 square meter campus employs 100 3D printing specialists and will soon have 200 employees. Safran has invested 80 million euros in the campus, which centralizes all additive manufacturing (AM) activities within the company. The facility will include a powder lab, a metallurgical lab, a scanning electric microscope, two heat treatment ovens, finishing equipment and at least eight powder bed fusion 3D printers. That figure doesn’t seem that high, given that Safran was known to have Renishaw, SLM Solutions and Additive Industries units. Therefore, she may not have acquired more for the new installation.
Safran said that currently less than one percent of its production features 3D printed components. Eventually, it plans engines containing 25% 3D printed components. Safran says that with machining, a fitting would typically require ten kilos of material to get a single kilogram of part. With the molding of a 500 gram piece, two kilos of material would be needed. In contrast, an additive component would weigh 400 grams and only require 600 grams of material. With these benefits, along with the weight savings, part integration, and potential overall benefits of the technology, the company hopes to accelerate its add-on rollout to become more agile as an organization.
To achieve this, Safran has already qualified 10 components for its various divisions and is working on the additive on all of its units. Safran Helicopter has produced over 1,000 3D printed parts to date and plans to accelerate AM with the campus looking to manufacture 4,000 components in 2022 and over 8,000 in 2023. This includes five qualified components for its M88 enginecurrently in development.
Olivier Andries, CEO of Safran, said of the new factory: “We made the strategic decision to create this new center of excellence to consolidate Safran’s expertise in additive manufacturing and accelerate the application of this technology. a break. We will leverage the benefits of this technology to make our new products even lighter, while improving their performance, and this is key to achieving our industry’s goal of reducing its environmental impact. A quarter of the parts for some of our engines could eventually be manufactured using this process.
Safran in the broader market of 3D printing for aeronautics
Safran is a bit behind in 3D printing. The $24 billion group has extensive businesses in aircraft, helicopter and rocket engines for Ariane rockets, as well as landing systems, nacelles, aircraft wiring, fluid management and cabin equipment. It’s really hard to find many other companies that would benefit more from AM than Safran. After all, it is one of the largest aircraft companies in the world and a major manufacturer of missile propulsion, in addition to producing engines. These are all areas where 3D printing can have a huge impact.
If we look at Saran’s various competitors, from Pratt & Whitney and GE in engines to new space companies in space propulsion and like Honeywell in other parts, each company has done more in AM than Safran. The American defense establishment has been really focused on developing new 3D printing technologies and encouraging American companies to use them. This led to tens of thousands of parts on Boeing planes for years, as well as large investments in additives. GE’s spending is best known, but many other US military giants, such as Lockheed, Raytheon, and Northrop, have also spent big on 3D printing.
In the United States, the defense sector often leads in technological innovation and cutting-edge R&D. In Europe, funding has been directed to more peaceful areas. Yes, Europe has funded new technologies in nanoimprinting and elsewhere. However, its lack of focus on defense and space means that the United States currently has a clear lead in turbomachinery, rocket propulsion and space applications for 3D printing. The Safran campus is a good step forward, but the firm and the European defense and research establishments will have to make up a few zeros on these 80 million euros to catch up.
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