ITP Aero 3D Prints the Structure of the New UltraFan Aeronautical Engine
As the Spain-based subsidiary of British luxury automobile maker Rolls-Royce, ITP Aero continues to innovate in the aeronautical industry, particularly as it pertains to engines. Now, ITP Aero has designed and created one of the main structures of the new UltraFan® engine. The TBH (Tail Bearing Housing) is the first prototype structure designed for the Rolls-Royce project using additive manufacturing. This structure will be used as a connecting element between the plane and the engine and will carry all the associated loads. This is a key development since the TBH is a structure capable of bearing loads in all operating conditions. It also houses the bearings on which the shaft that moves the front fan, the main driving element of the motor, rests. That is why the company has opted for manufacturing technology, such as additive, that adapts to the requirements of the industry.
Among the many advantages that additive manufacturing offers in the aeronautical sector, we find a reduction in the weight of the final parts, which translates into better aerodynamic performance and a lower environmental impact. In addition, this technology makes it possible to create parts more quickly locally. Its presence in this industry, and specifically in Spain, has grown over the years. One of the main reasons lies in the technological advances and the development of new materials for these innovative production systems. In fact, this new UltraFan project carried out by ITP Aero clearly demonstrates the importance of implementing these methods in aeronautics, especially in Spain.
ITP Aero & the UltraFan Aircraft Engine
The ITP Aero company has an additive manufacturing cell and a team of professionals dedicated to this production method in its facilities. To create the prototype, the experts turned to selective laser sintering (SLS) technology. According to the team, this method makes it possible to produce components with complex geometries, using only small amounts of powder and fewer tools. Following ITP Aero’s own design and manufacturing criteria, a 25% saving of material has been achieved in the manufacturing, a significant figure if we compare it to other production processes used today. The UltraFan TBH also incorporates 3D printed acoustic attenuation panels, achieving a 50% reduction in the acoustic power emitted by the turbine. This can be critical for aircraft and engine certification.
With this, we see that one of the main points to highlight is ITP Aero’s environmental responsibility and its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Regarding the use of 3D printing, Erlantz Cristóbal, Executive Director of Technology and Engineering at ITP Aero, commented: “Our commitment to additive manufacturing technology is part of our commitment to digitization in order to make ITP Aero a more agile, resilient and sustainable leading company. We are proud to apply this technology to programs as ambitious as UltraFan, a key pillar of our commitment to make aviation an increasingly sustainable sector ”. In addition, the UltraFan engine will be able to use 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
The UltraFan prototype engine is the foundation of a future engine family with improved basic capabilities and a new engine architecture that will be more efficient than the first generation of Trent engines. It remains to be seen what are the future initiatives that integrate 3D technology in the aeronautical sector. You can find more information about this project on the company’s website.
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Photo Credit: ITP Aero