Aerospace: Renishaw & Airbus Team Up to Explore 3D Printing’s Role in Aircraft Wing Designs of the Future

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qB5FudgU_400x400The wonders of 3D printing are something to behold on their own, but when we see projects of enormous industrial magnitude gearing up, one understands the true impacts the technology is having. It’s one thing to create a design and then see it come to the fruition from the desktop—and there are so many incredible object to be made—from the novice to advanced level, but another altogether when you realize that 3D printing and additive manufacturing are now responsible for important new parts in massive machines like rockets and jets. This all becomes far more impressive when we see experts from within their own realms coming together on new projects that have the potential to make history. That would be the case as Airbus and Renishaw team up to create a new design for aircraft wings.

These are both companies that are occupying the 3D printing space quite often recently with dynamic projects, with UK-headquartered Renishaw repeatedly offering up their powerful engineering expertise and 3D printing systems to propel other fast and powerful machines. We saw this just recently as they offered new components to the front suspension for professional racing bikes, as well as being commissioned to 3D print parts for an America’s Cup yacht. It’s obvious that those with very specific needs turn to Renishaw—for assistance in manufacturing parts that absolutely cannot fail.

Airbus, headquartered in France but with offices and facilities around the world, is responsible for all of the parts that make up an aircraft. They are also responsible for looking toward and preparing for the future of their industry. Collaborating with Renishaw, they are now engaged in ‘Windy,’ a project regarding Wing Design Methodology Validation that has big support, evidenced by joint industry and UK government investment from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI).

download-1Windy will focus on wing design for aircraft. You don’t need to know much about the design of a plane to realize that the wings are central to nearly every part its operation, and it makes sense that as many tens of thousands of new planes will be needed in the next few decades, taking a look at current constructions and how they can be improved is a logical idea. The industry is expected to see a need for new planes as many are replaced, and also quite simply to accommodate more travelers throughout the world.

“Aircraft wing design is a hugely complicated process and this project will look at ways we can increase the robustness of the design and test process while also reducing the time this takes,” said Airbus Chief Operating Officer Tom Williams.

“Developing state-of-the-art technology will be at the heart of achieving these improvements and this investment is vital for that.”

The Airbus team leading this project overall will come from the Filton, Bristol facility, famed for superior quality in the area of wing design from research and development to testing of new products. Renishaw, a key partner in project ‘Windy,’ will obviously be working with Airbus regarding all things 3D printing and additive manufacturing, with expertise in metal AM technologies.


Clive Martell, Renishaw

“This is a fantastic opportunity to work with Airbus and other project partners to develop processes that will fully test the capabilities of additive manufacturing,” said Clive Martell, Renishaw’s Head of Global Additive Manufacturing.

“If we can highlight the design and production benefits of this technology in one of the most demanding industry sectors, then it paves the way for greater of adoption of AM for serialized production in many other applications.”

The use of 3D printing for wing structure would seem intuitive as one of the greatest benefits of designing customized parts with this new technology is in being able to create much lighter components—always a central theme for aircraft. As the teams examine new aerodynamic modelling for aircraft wing structures they will work to see where the advantages of 3D printing can become involved, as well as other possibilities in innovation concerning areas such as improved load control for refined efficiency.

“One of the key aims of the ATI’s UK national aerospace strategy is to sustain and grow the UK’s global leadership in aircraft wings,” said Simon Weeks, Chief Technology Officer of the Aerospace Technology Institute.

“The Windy project is a key element of this aim, securing essential wing design and integration capabilities in the UK and opening the way to innovative 3D-printed wing components. These will lead to lighter and more efficient wings, which will be needed for future generations of greener airliners.”


Many will be waiting to hear—and see—the outcome of this project as these teams in the UK work to further innovation in aerospace for the near future. As technology propels the world ahead at an accelerated rate, and especially with the benefits of 3D printing, it’s exciting to imagine new capabilities and features aircraft of the future will possess, as well as a host of new aesthetics. Discuss further over in the Airbus & Renishaw Collaborate in 3D Printed Aircraft Wings forum at

[Source: Robotics and Automation News]


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