Fast Prototype Development for Future-Proof Aviation

For future-proof aviation, the aviation industry must make progress not only in terms of greenhouse gas or noise emissions. The challenges of our time, such as climate change, supply bottlenecks and staff shortages, are putting enormous development and innovation pressure on the industry. In order to meet the complex requirements, the process of design and testing of new components must be accelerated. Currently, the production of new functional prototypes takes several months. If it is realized during assessment of these prototypes that changes need to be made, a new, time-consuming iteration begins.

In the FAST aerospace research project, a methodology is being developed to make the process chains for prototype production more agile and thus faster. Such complex challenges require unconventional approaches and diverse teams. This diversity is represented by the consortium consisting of the Brandenburg Technical University (BTU), Access e.V., Schaeffler AG, and the Fraunhofer Institutes IAP, IFAM, IWS.


Process Chain Analysis

Among other things, the aim is to increase the productivity of the various manufacturing processes such as casting, forming or 3D printing per se. However, the project also focuses on increasing the overall productivity of prototype production by combining the processes in a suitable manner. For example, forming and additive material deposition (welding/cladding) can complement each other well to replace costly milling work when features are to be applied to flat components. 

Process flow diagrams, process key parameters and process error and impact analyses help the parties involved, who specialize in their particular manufacturing processes, to speak a common language and to be able to combine the advantages of the individual processes in the best possible way.


Digitally Supported, Fast Technology and Process Chain Realization

The increasing digitization of manufacturing processes is another starting point for rapid process chain realization. On the one hand, it can help engineers to combine their processes more quickly, or to step in with another process if one technology fails. In addition, the analysis of process data can help to better understand the processes and their combination and to support and shorten quality assurance.


Know-how Transfer for the Successful Transition of Former Brown Coal Mining Areas to Future Regions of Aviation

The experts involved in FAST are in close exchange with the Center for Hybrid Electric Systems Cottbus (CHESCO) in order to transfer their many years of experience in their field to the manufacturing center being built there and to enable it to become quickly operational.


As a Particularly Agile Manufacturing Process, Additive Manufacturing Is a Promising Element of Rapid Process Chain Realization

In addition to unrivaled design freedom, additive manufacturing also offers the possibility of function integration or weight savings through topology optimization. In case of failure of another system or problems in supply chains, it can take over parts of the process chain or produce tools needed for other processes. This can shorten the long iteration phases described above.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology is contributing the necessary expertise in me-tall 3D printing to the consortium. The parameter studies needed to increase the productivity of printing can be carried out here for a wide range of materials relevant to aerospace. Functional integration and lightweight construction are implemented through production-ready design. Simulations for load estimation but also for process preparation and analysis complete the IWS contribution to future-proof aerospace in Germany.