Safran Landing Systems and Airbus team up on additive manufacturing
Safran Landing Systems and Airbus Corporate Innovation have launched a co-innovation project concerning the production of a titanium hydraulic unit for the A350 using additive manufacturing. This process, also known as 3D printing, produces parts by adding successive layers of materials (plastic or metals). The project, dubbed AMaLGaM (Additively MAnufactured Landing GeAr single integrated Manifold), brings together experts from the two companies under the direction of a single project manager, Catherine Daou-Battais of Safran Landing Systems, who kindly agreed to answer our questions.
What do you mean by "co-innovation"?
This is the first time the co-innovation principle has been applied at Safran; it's the subject of a collaboration agreement with Airbus, signed in February 2017. The idea is to form a mixed project team with people from both companies, led by a single project manager. For the AMaLGaM project, we formed an R&T (Research and Technology) team of a dozen persons. Engineers and designers are working collaboratively from their respective facilities, Safran in Filton (United Kingdom) and Airbus in Toulouse (France).
What are the objectives from the technical and human resources standpoints?
Technically speaking, we want to reduce weight and production costs. On the human side, we are further cementing links with one of our major customers. The integrated team melds experts in traditional technologies with those in newer technologies, fostering very constructive competition and collaboration. Each person contributes his or her own culture, knowledge and motivation to drive the project. In our team, everybody learns something new every day.
What are the upcoming milestones in this project?
First, finalizing the R&T phase. Then, we'll pass the baton to the A350 XWB program team, which will gear up for the introduction of the hydraulic unit on production airplanes, which could hit the market in 2021. Our work on this unit is only a starting point, because our aim is to quickly apply this method to other projects. Additive manufacturing will quickly come into general use. So teaming up with a major customer on this subject is a concrete expression of the Factory of the Future!