Airbus launches CSIR partnership

2012-09-14 08:50
Airbus has announced a partnership with the CSIR and Aerosud to manufacture new materials to reduce the cost of aircraft components. (Wong Maye-E, AP)

Airbus has announced a partnership with the CSIR and Aerosud to manufacture new materials to reduce the cost of aircraft components. (Wong Maye-E, AP)

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Cape Town - Airbus has announced a partnership with the CSIR and Aerosud to manufacture new materials to reduce the cost of aircraft components.

"Airbus, South Africa's CSIR and Aerosud have agreed to partner on a research project to test the application of titanium powder-based Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) for the fabrication of large and complex aerospace components," Airbus said in a statement.

The aeroplane manufacturer established an agreement with the department of science and technology in 2006 to conduct research in SA and also concluded agreements with researchers at the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University, among others.

The research projects aim to find ways of innovating in aerospace and Airbus said that the company was interested in South African ideas.

"We don't have a monopoly of ideas at Airbus - not even in Europe. This will extend our research programme beyond European boundaries. South Africa has an opportunity for training and there may opportunities as well for commercial prospects," Dale King Airbus senior manager for research and technology partnerships told News24 in 2011.

Manufacturing

The ALM project could potentially reduce the cost of manufacturing.

"ALM involves forming an object from powder, which is arranged in layers and fused by high-speed lasers. It is a process completely devoid of bulk machining, cutting and welding thereby minimising waste and optimising the manufacturing process.

"It's like printing in 3D," said Hardus Greyling, the project co-ordinator of Aeroswift at the CSIR. 

The department of science and technology (DST) invested into the development of the concept before a decision was made to move to full scale prototype system.

"The above-mentioned projects have been supported through research and technology development funding grants of approximately R65m over the last six years from the department of science and technology," said Beeuwen Gerryts, chief director at the DST.

This project may assist SA in its beneficiation strategy for minerals. Instead of exporting raw materials to developed markets, the country could expand manufacturing capacity and sell goods at a premium abroad.

"There is no doubt that ALM is changing the small-scale component manufacturing landscape and with Airbus joining the partnership, it will be possible to test and evaluate the manufacturing process on large components for passenger jetliners," said King on Thursday.


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