Market Overview

GKN Aerospace Cuts Assembly Tool Production Time with Stratasys Additive Manufacturing


Time cut from several weeks to a few hours using Stratasys Production
3D Printer

GKN Aerospace is producing complex tools that were uneconomical or
impossible to make without additive manufacturing

Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) today
announced that GKN
is improving production times and removing design
constraints for multiple tooling applications since integrating additive
manufacturing at its Filton manufacturing site in the UK.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

3D printed tooling produced on the Stratasys F900 Production 3D Printer (Photo: Business Wire)

3D printed tooling produced on the Stratasys F900 Production 3D Printer (Photo: Business Wire)

GKN serves over 90 percent of the world's aircraft and engine
manufacturers with aerostructures, engine systems and technologies.

According to Tim Hope, Additive Manufacturing Center Manager, at GKN
Aerospace, the company decided to invest in the Stratasys
F900 Production 3D Printer
in a bid to
cut lead times for production-line tools, and to create complex parts,
impossible to make with traditional manufacturing methods.

"Since integrating the F900, we have dramatically reduced
production-line downtime for certain teams and are enjoying a new found
freedom to design complex tools," he says.

Traditionally, the lead-time required to produce a metal or plastic
replacement tool is several weeks. Now, with the ability to use an
in-house production 3D printer to do the same job, the replacement
burden has been removed and the responsiveness to manufacturing
requirements improved.

"We can now cost-effectively produce tools for our operators within
three hours," Hope explains. "This saves critical production time, and
by printing in engineering-grade thermoplastics, we can produce 3D
printed tools with repeatable, predictable quality every time. All while
matching the quality of a traditionally-produced tool, and reducing the
costs and concessions compared to equivalent metallic tooling."

While GKN Aerospace is using a standard thermoplastic today, it is
experimenting with Stratasys' high-strength, heat-resistant ULTEM™ 1010
Resin material for these applications.

Customized, complex tools that were previously impossible to make

In addition, GKN Aerospace is reporting unprecedented levels of design
freedom since investing in the Stratasys F900 into its operations.

"One of the key benefits of additive manufacturing is the creative
freedom this technology affords users," explains Hope. "The F900 offers
the largest build-size of any FDM 3D printer enabling us to rapidly
produce tools to meet any requirements. Most notably, complex geometries
and cavities that would otherwise be problematic are now practical with
the F900. We're utilising it to design, and 3D print, previously
inconceivable tools that enable us to manufacture complex parts that are
uneconomical or just physically impossible by other methods."

In addition to design freedom benefits, GKN Aerospace has also seen a 40
percent decrease in material waste.

To the future

Hope anticipates a greater move towards the use of FDM additive
manufacturing to produce high-value, flight-critical, end-use composite

He says. "GKN Aerospace's product range is vast, and we see large-scale
FDM and carbon-reinforced parts as the future of additive manufacturing
in aerospace. By using Stratasys additive manufacturing for tooling, we
are harnessing a machine that offers us the freedom to produce unique
and complex tools of any size, with the build quality to match any
manufacturing requirement. All while simultaneously preparing ourselves
for the future."

Stratasys is a global leader in additive manufacturing or 3D printing
technology and is the manufacturer of FDM® and PolyJet™ 3D Printers. The
company's technologies are used to create prototypes, manufacturing
tools, and production parts for industries, including aerospace,
automotive, healthcare, consumer products and education. For 30 years,
Stratasys products have helped manufacturers reduce product-development
time, cost, and time-to-market, as well as reduce or eliminate tooling
costs and improve product quality. The Stratasys 3D printing ecosystem
of solutions and expertise includes: 3D printers, materials, software,
expert services, and on-demand parts production. Online at:, and LinkedIn.

Stratasys, FDM, and Fortus are registered trademarks, and the Stratasys
signet is a trademark of Stratasys Ltd. and/or its subsidiaries or
affiliates. ULTEM 1010 Resin is a registered trademark of SABIC or its
affiliates or subsidiaries. All other trademarks are the property of
their respective owners.

Attention Editors, if you publish reader-contact information, please use:

  • USA 1-877-489-9449
  • Europe/Middle East/Africa +49-7229-7772-0
  • Asia Pacific +852 3944-8888

View Comments and Join the Discussion!