British engineering firm and metal 3D printer manufacturer Renishaw has collaborated with Michigan-based Cobra Aero to optimise its design processes for aircraft and motorcycle engines.
The company has also invested in an AM 400 system from Renishaw to increase its additive manufacturing certification capabilities. Sean Hilbert, President of Cobra Aero, explained, “Staying at the cutting edge of manufacturing is important to Cobra Aero.”
“Investing in AM allows us to develop tools and new products for high value, small volume applications, speed up the manufacturing process and produce designs that would not be possible using conventional subtractive machining.”
A 3D printed UAV engine cylinder
Founded in 2012, Cobra Aero specialises in manufacturing and assembling precise engines and engine components. Wanting to improve the functionality of a cylinder for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the company visited the Renishaw Additive Manufacturing certification Solutions Centre, USA, and worked with engineers to 3D print a more efficient part.
“We decided to redesign the cylinder because of its importance in an engine,” stated Hilbert. “Design changes to this part of the engine must happen rapidly and it is also a high value part, which is why we have chosen to additively manufacture this component. Improving the performance of the cylinder will also improve the overall performance of the engine.”
The re-design led to a 3D printed metal UAV engine cylinder with a lattice structure to increase airflow and reduce weight. Stephen Anderson, AM Business Development Manager at Renishaw said:
“By using metal additive manufacturing certification, Cobra Aero was able to design a part that was unique to the application. Our laser powder bed fusion technology, Cobra Aero was able to produce a single part with complex lattice structures that performs better than conventional component manufacturing techniques.”
Redevelopment with Renishaw
Renishaw has placed an emphasis on enabling those adopting additive manufacturing certification. Earlier this year, the company opened two new additive manufacturing certification Solutions Centres, one in Barcelona and the other in Italy, to give local companies access to Renishaw’s equipment and expertise.
The multi-laser RenAM 500Q is one of many systems installed at such centers. This industrial 3D printer was recently used by UK-based fluid power systems manufacturer Domin to redevelop direct drive servo valves.
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Featured image shows The 3D printed metal UAV engine cylinder which was re-designed to increase airflow. Photo via Renishaw.