Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing of Front Bearing Housing Aerofoils for Ground and Flying Test Bed Engines

Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing of Front Bearing Housing Aerofoils for Ground and Flying Test Bed Engines

Case Studies Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing of Front Bearing Housing Aerofoils for Ground and Flying Test Bed Engines

The MTC works with Rolls-Royce on the additive manufacture of a flight test front bearing housing, resulting in 30% improvement in lead time for first part to stores for the engine development programme.

"This project has provided a key step in developing the industrial viability of ALM processes and has established a vital body of knowledge to inform and shape the next steps of this journey."
Neil Mantle, Head of Additive Layer Manufacturing Centre of Competence, Rolls-Royce

The Challenge

Development of additive layer manufacturing (ALM) has not only been limited to small and intricate components. Rolls-Royce have pioneered the development of larger significant parts and associated technologies for structural engine components. The front bearing housing is the largest aero engine structure to fly, incorporating ALM components, in the world to-date (Nov 2015).

MTC's Solution

  • Working in conjunction with Rolls-Royce and Arcam, MTC developed processes from powder inspection and characterisation through component manufacture to post process nondestructive testing of the ALM components
  • Embedded integrated project team with the machine manufacturer, the MTC and Rolls-Royce working together
  • Secure and confidential development location
  • Facilitated fast iteration of designs
  • Provided access to world-leading expertise in powder characterisation for additive manufacturing

The Outcome

  • Hundreds of aerospace quality components manufactured under full Rolls-Royce control
  • Tens of thousands of equipment run hours with extensive data capture
  • Electron beam additive manufactured components incorporated into ground and flying test bed XWB-97 engines

Benefits to the Client

  • 30% improvement in lead time for first development parts to stores
  • Fast iteration and design change implementation throughout project
  • Product and process knowledge captured for us in future Rolls-Royce programmes
  • Transferable capability and knowledge obtained as a result
  • Appreciation of economic business case drivers
  • Continuous improvements made to technology platform in conjunction with integrated project team


Images courtesy of Rolls-Royce plc 2015


Related information

We are working at the forefront of applied technology. The job is exciting and varied and every day brings a new challenge.
Dr Katy Milne
Technology Manager, Metrology and NDT