Almost exactly a year ago, we covered an additive manufacturing case study involving Safran Electrical & Power, a France-based specialist in electrical systems for commercial and military aircraft, and British manufacturing firm Betatype. At the time, the companies were working together to redesign and optimize an electrical generator housing for aircraft and saw promising results with improved part strength and stiffness and weight reduction.
Today, the partners have revealed that since their first collaborative announcement they have come a long way. Since unveiling the original proof of concept for the 3D printed electrical generator housing, Betatype has managed to further improve upon the part’s AM design using its scalable Process Control technology.
The Second Generation Auxiliary Power Unit Generator Housing saw an additional weight reduction of 30% compared to the previous part iteration for additive manufacturing. This was achieved by minimizing material usage and material waste associated with the part. Further, Betatype’s updated part for Safran had a 30% faster production time thanks to scan path optimization and precise process control.
Another significant update to the part in question was its material. While the first 3D printed housing part was made from titanium in order to meet certain stiffness and strength requirements, an updated geometry for the second generation part enabled Betatype and Safran Electric & Power to switch to aluminum. According to Betatype, this became an option by switching from a sandwich panel design to an external ribbing design. This approach resulted in a reduced profile volume while still maintaining the required stiffness. A prototype part was 3D printed from AlSi10Mg by UK-based metal 3D printing company Renishaw.
The weight and build time improvements for the electrical generator housing were accomplished largely thanks to Betatype’s software and AM application expertise as well as Safran’s knowledge of energy and power applications.
Overall, the collaboration between Betatype and Safran Electrical & Power has demonstrated how the use of additive manufacturing for specific applications can evolve—even over the course of a year. The original housing, which was made up of several complex machined components, was initially consolidated using AM and DfAM. Now, the electrical housing has undergone even more improvements, offering Safran Electrical & Power even more production and performance advantages.