Hybrid DED project offers sustainability boost

A consortium led by the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) is working with leading aerospace companies on a Hybrid Direct Energy Deposition (DED) project.

Aircraft landing gear (Image: NMIS)

The ‘Hybrid Direct Energy Deposition (DED) Sprint’ project counts Airbus and Safran landing systems among its employees, and strives for cost savings in addition to lead time savings and sustainability benefits for the production of critical components through a combination of forging, forming and additive manufacturing.

Funded by the Institute of Space Technology (ATI) and supported by the High Quality Manufacturing Catapultthe project partners include: NMI digital factory, University of Cranfield and the Northern Ireland Technology Center (NITC) based at Queen’s University Belfast, together with an industrial steering committee of 13 companies.

The group is developing a new hybrid DED process that will help overcome the current challenges faced by manufacturers associated with the expensive and time-consuming process of manufacturing critical components needed to operate under harsh conditions.

Seeking “streamlining and future-proofing manufacturing,” the method combines the low cost and flexibility of forging, high production rates of molding, and design adaptability of additive manufacturing (AM). It also includes the advantages of parallel kinematic machine techniques (PKM), which combine the agility of robots with the accuracy of machine tools.

Traditionally, important aerospace components, such as those in aircraft landing gear, are forged and then machined, but the use of hybrid DED methodologies can reduce tooling, forging and machining requirements.


Adding features directly to forged and formed substrates using AM leads to a more efficient production process with less material waste. This also offers opportunities for new repair and overhaul methods.

While the team currently focuses on the aerospace sector, the team said the method will be applicable in a wide variety of industries, including oil and gas, defense, aerospace and automotive.

The first two project phases are led by Cranfield University and NMIS, which is administered by Strathclyde University. They are underway with plans to deliver a demonstrator component later this year.

The third phase, led by the NITC, will focus on PKM machining, while the final proof-of-concept phase will compare traditional and alternative production routes.

“This project has real potential to deliver more efficient alternative production routes for aerospace companies, and will enable key industrial drivers such as reduced embodied emissions, remanufacturing and more resilient supply chains,” said Project PI Stephen Fitzpatrick, head of additive manufacturing and machining at the company. National Manufacturing Institute Scotland.

NMIS, Cranfield University and the NITC are working closely with the steering committee to ensure project outcomes are aligned with industry requirements, reducing future steps such as qualification and certification of hybrid DED components.

Abhishek Maheswari
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