AM for Defense Industry

Building parts for the F35: AM versus CNC machining

Additive manufacturing is not just for reasons of spare parts supply an attractive technology for the defense industry. Also, for building new parts, although there are a lot of challenges. “In a recent project we showed that we can manage these challenges”, says Michel Honoré of the Danish Force Technology institute. In his presentation at the Virtual AM for Defense Conference, Michel Honoré will compare cost and leadtime of an additive manufactured part for the Joint Strike Fighter with the equivalent CNC machined.

Michel Honoré, Project Manager R&D Laser AM and Safety, has quite some experience with metal additive manufacturing. Since 2005, when the graduated engineer with a master’s degree in physics, joined the Danish RTO Force Technology, he is engaged with additive manufacturing. The focus of Force Technology during the last years has been on large scale AM. “With a robot and a multi kW laser source”, Michel Honoré explains. “We manufacture big parts, up to 3 meters in length and 1 metric ton weight.” For producing these kinds of applications, the Danish research institute, that positions itself between the university and the industry, applies a self-developed laser metal deposition system with wire and an industry standard DED-unit that uses powder.

Force Technology project with Danish subcontractor shows the benefits of AM

Manufacturing F35 part with AM and CNC machining

For manufacturing companies in the defense industry, additive manufacturing is a useful technology, Michel Honoré says. Besides for rebuilding worn out parts or building replacement parts for the aging jet fighters of the Danish air force, there are also benefits of using AM for manufacturing new parts. During the Virtual AM for Defense Conference Michel Honoré will talk about a project Force Technology did with a subcontractor from Denmark. Together they developed e real application for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. “If we compare traditional manufacturing, CNC machining, of this kind of parts with additive manufacturing, despite the challenges AM has a lot of benefits”, Michel Honoré says.

Overcome the challenges of a welding proces

Do not underestimate the challenges, he says. Michel Honoré has a background as engineer in welding. “An AM part is a 100 percent welded part. And in aerospace applications you want to minimize everything that has to do with welding, because of the defects the welding process can introduce.” The project of Force Technology showed that it is possible to overcome these problems and control the process to deliver good parts. So, with the right approach you can use laser metal deposition for building new parts for jet fighters. And by applying additive manufacturing, the benefits are both in time and money. Especially the latter.

Michel Honoré is giving his presentation at the Virtual AM for Defense Conference on Tuesday 27th of October. To learn more about this session, visit the conference website

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