Renishaw 3D printing improves speed and cuts cost for Kwikbolt tooling

UK-based additive manufacturing specialist Renishaw has helped Frazer-Nash Manufacturing, a precision engineering service provider, to produce a novel aircraft tooling device for its customer Kwikbolt.

Using a Renishaw AM 400 additive manufacturing system, Frazer-Nash was able to produce a fastening tool for aircraft panels with reduced time and cost compared to traditional subtractive manufacturing methods like CNC machining. Explaining why additive manufacturing proved to be an effective production method for the tool, Stuart Offer, AM Sales Manager at Renishaw, comments: “By using AM, Frazer-Nash is able to produce components cost-effectively in small batch sizes.”

“In contrast to machining, no custom tooling is required, which results in improvements in speed and a reduction in manufacturing costs, particularly for such a difficult to machine part.”

A selection of the temporary fastening devices from Kiwkbolt. Photo via Renishaw.
A selection of the temporary fastening devices from Kiwkbolt. Photo via Renishaw.

Long-term relationship with Renishaw

Also based in the UK, Frazer-Nash provides design, manufacturing and precision engineering services to various industries, with a particular focus in aerospace. Frazer-Nash initially sourced an additive manufacturing system from Renishaw in 2014, obtaining the AM 250 system to be used in-house.

The company has developed a close relationship with Renishaw since then, and opted to purchase the AM 400 to help produce metal parts for its customers. “Over the last five years, we have developed a close partnership with Renishaw,” commented Paul Mortlock, Managing Director at Frazer-Nash.

“We originally chose to partner with Renishaw due to its support services and we have found these to be invaluable.”

The Frazer-Nash Manufacturing facility. Photo via Renishaw.
The Frazer-Nash Manufacturing facility. Photo via Renishaw.

Developing customized bespoke tools for the aerospace industry

Frazer-Nash’s project with its customer, Kwikbolt, has been regarded as one of its most successful in additive manufacturing. Kwikbolt specializes in producing aerospace fasteners using modern technology and materials, with the aim of revolutionizing the assembly of aircraft. It is reportedly one of the only companies in the world that produces specific temporary fastening devices for the alignment of aircraft panels and fuselage during the assembly of the vehicles.

Using its Renishaw AM 400 system, Frazer-Nash has been able to provide an effective solution to producing a complicated fastener tool for Kwikbolt while simplifying the overall manufacturing process of the component. The custom geometries of the bespoke tool can be produced at a comparatively lower cost compared to CNC machining using additive manufacturing, with less time required as well. “The Kwikbolt project is a true AM success story,” added Mortlock. “Using AM means we can easily produce a bespoke component based on each aerospace customer’s requirements.

“Renishaw’s AM systems have been flawless since we started working together. Frazer-Nash now produces 25,000 AM parts a year and has expanded its range of components.”

The aircraft assembly part from Kwikbolt. Photo via Renishaw.
The aircraft assembly part from Kwikbolt. Photo via Renishaw.

Renishaw 3D printing in aerospace

Renishaw’s metal additive manufacturing technologies have been employed on previous occasions by organizations within the aerospace sector to produce high-performance parts. In 2017, the company revealed that the Centre for Advanced Aerospace Technologies (CATEC) in Seville used its RenAM 500 3D printer to help develop high-speed turbine blades for the aerospace industry. The development of the parts was part of the Futuralve project, funded by the Spanish Government’s Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), which aimed to develop new technologies for high-speed aerospace turbines.

Earlier this year in March 2019, Renishaw hosted an open day dedicated entirely to additive manufacturing in aerospace. 150 guests were invited to observe cutting edge advanced manufacturing technology at the company’s innovation centre in Gloucestershire, with presentations from Airbus, GKN, Rolls-Royce, Castle Precision Engineering, and Sandvik Coromant.

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Featured image shows the aircraft assembly part from Kwikbolt. Photo via Renishaw.