ITP Aero 3D prints the structure of the new UltraFan aircraft engine
A Spanish subsidiary of the British Rolls Royce, ITP Aero continues to innovate in the aeronautics industry, particularly with regard to engines. Today, ITP Aero has designed and created one of the main structures of the new UltraFan® engine. The TBH (Tail Bearing Housing) is the first structural prototype designed for the Rolls-Royce project using additive manufacturing. Concretely, it will serve as a connecting element between the aircraft and the engine, which will support all the associated loads. This is a key project since the TBH is a structure capable of withstanding load conditions for all operating conditions. It also houses the bearings on which the shaft that moves the front fan, the main driving element of the engine, rests. This is why the company has opted for a manufacturing technology, such as the additive, which adapts to the requirements of the industry.
Among the many advantages offered by additive manufacturing in the aeronautical sector, we find a reduction in the weight of the final parts, which translates into better aerodynamic performance and a lower environmental impact. In addition, this technology allows parts to be created more quickly locally. Its presence in this industry, and in particular in Spain, has grown over the years. One of the main reasons is technological advances and the development of new materials for these innovative production systems. Indeed, this new UltraFan project led by ITP Aero clearly demonstrates the importance of implementing these methods in aeronautics, especially in Spain.
ITP Aero and the UltraFan aircraft engine
ITP Aero has an additive manufacturing unit and a team of professionals dedicated to this mode of production in its facilities. To create the prototype, experts turned to selective laser sintering (SLS) technology. According to the team, this method makes it possible to produce parts with complex geometries, using only small quantities of powder and fewer tools. Following ITP Aero’s own design and manufacturing criteria, a 25% material saving has been achieved in manufacturing, a significant figure when compared to other production processes in use today. The UltraFan TBH also incorporates 3D printed acoustic attenuation panels, allowing a 50% reduction in the acoustic power emitted by the turbine. This can be critical for the certification of aircraft and engines.
With this, we see that one of the main points to highlight is ITP Aero’s environmental responsibility and its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Regarding the use of 3D printing, Erlantz Cristóbal, Executive Director of Technology and Engineering at ITP Aero, commented: “Our commitment to additive manufacturing technology is part of our commitment to digitization in order to achieve ITP Aero to be a more agile, resilient and sustainable leader. business. We are proud to apply this technology to programs as ambitious as UltraFan, a key pillar of our commitment to make aviation an increasingly sustainable sector ”. In addition, the UltraFan engine will be able to use 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
The UltraFan prototype engine is the foundation for a future engine family with improved core capabilities and a new engine architecture that will be more efficient than the first generation of Trent engines. It remains to be seen what are the future initiatives that integrate 3D technology in the aeronautical sector. You can find more information about this project on the company’s website.
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Photo credit: ITP Aéro