BionicAircraft project promotes more additive manufacturing in aviation industry

CENIT is participating in the European research project “BionicAircraft,” which aims to boost resource efficiency in aviation by implementing additive manufacturing and bionic design in all phases of the aircraft lifecycle. Following a concept review, CENIT will implement its work package: A software toolset for automated bionic design.

BionicAircraft launched in September 2016.  This research project is co-funded by the European Commission’s “Horizon 2020” program. One focus of the project is on reducing and controlling emissions in the aviation industry.

IT specialist CENIT is one of 10 international consortium partners from various industry sectors as well as research and development organizations. They are working together to develop technologies and concepts for additive manufacturing that enable environment-friendly end2end lifecycles in the aviation industry.

Additive manufacturing in all phases of the aircraft lifecycle

This innovative manufacturing process will help develop ultra-light structures, enable flexible production of highly complex components, enable resource-efficient supply chains, as well as optimized concepts for repair, spare part logistics, recycling and waste management. In addition, additive technologies offer considerable weight-saving potentials for components and a significant reduction of material waste during production.

Software toolset for Automated Bionic Design

Nine work packages were defined for the research project. They address aspects such as design, production, materials development, quality control, as well as repair and disposal of 3D-printed components. In collaboration with its partners Airbus, Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH (LZN) and the Institute for Laser and System Technologies (iLAS) at TU Hamburg-Harburg, CENIT is working to  simplify product development for lightweight bionic structures using streamlined design methodologies. CENIT is thereby addressing one of the most important potentials and challenges of additive manufacturing: Entirely new types of components which cannot be manufactured using traditional production methods.

“One of the main reasons why additive manufacturing and 3D printing have not yet had a major impact on aircraft manufacturing is the elaborate design process. Since this is not yet automated, it must be carried out with a series of different software packages. Specialized software is also needed to process data for the 3D printing machines. During the design phase, the engineers  have to switch back and forth between different tools. This makes the process time-intensive, and that in turn makes it expensive,” explains Michael Schwartz, Manager for Innovative Aerospace Solutions at CENIT. “CENIT’s work focuses on a major simplification of the design process. To achieve this, we are integrating all 3D print, design and data conditioning processes into a single toolset for automated bionic design. That way, we can help establish a consistent digital process chain.”

The individual components of the task field assigned to CENIT, Airbus, LZN and iLAS are the formulation of design guidelines for additive manufacturing, the development of a 3D-CAD toolset for the use of CATIA in bionic design, as well as 3D print data conditioning including bionically optimized structures. These tasks provide the cornerstones for a range of additional sub-tasks.

A wide range of additional results is expected at the end of the three-year “BionicAircraft” project.


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