Reducing the impact of aviation
Bionic Aircraft is an EU-funded research project that develops and manufactures lightweight, yet strong components for airplanes. By integrating Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) technology and biomimetic design they create lightweight structures. The implementation of these new technologies have shown 30% weight savings as opposed to traditional manufacturing. And thereby reducing the impact of aviation on our environment!
Welcome to the Bionic Aircraft Project
Additive Manufacturing (AM) plays an important role in the development of new resource-efficient manufacturing technologies. The “Bionic Aircraft” project is focusing on enhancing resource efficiency of aviation by developing and implementing additive layer manufacturing (ALM) technologies and bionic design in all stages of an aircraft life cycle. With ALM as a tool-less production technology, highly developed geometries and internal structures can be produced, which can be only done with traditional manufacturing processes either with highly material, time and cost consuming processing steps, if at all possible.
With a successful implementation of ALM technologies, the resource efficiency of aviation will be increased in all stages of an aircraft life cycle from manufacturing over operation and maintenance to recycling. With new bionic design approaches and the development of high-strength aluminium alloys, component weight savings of more than 50% compared to traditional manufacturing in titanium are expected. During manufacturing, the capture efficiency for ALM powder production for aluminium will increase by 30%. Due to the average weight reduction of more than 30% for topology and bionic optimized ALM components the emissions will be reduced during the operation. At the same time, new innovative repair methods for ALM components will lead to increase their service life up to 50%, reducing maintenance cost and effort. In addition, the determination of efficient after-sales supply chains is addressed. Due to the development of an efficient recycling method, the recycling rate for ALM parts will increase to 95% in the recycling phase.
With the developments envisaged in the Bionic Aircraft project, the maturity level of AM will be transferred to a resource efficient production process, significantly increasing the use of AM in civilian aircrafts. In the medium term, the advances in bionic design and material technology will lead to a weight reduction of up to 1 ton per aircraft. In the long term, the construction of completely new types of aircrafts will be possible, which significantly reduces emissions during operation. The environmental impact is further reduced by the resource efficiency of AM technologies themselves and new possibilities of spare part logistics.
Nature has given us proven concepts through million years of evolution and is therefore a beautiful source of inspiration. By implementing natural structures the project has been able to create lightweight and efficient designs. They took inspiration from the wings of a butterfly, honeycomb structure, grass stalks and the tree radii. The designing process is automated by putting together all of these bionic features in a digital (CATIA) catalogue.
The Bionic Aircraft project is using a Laser Powderbed Fusion as an additive manufacturing technology. Meaning that a laser will melt the part where the cross sections of the digital model are. The component grows layer by layer, enabling to (re)use nearly all the material.Within the project 3 components have been developed and already put into use. It is expected that by 2050 we can see a total bionic aircraft flying through the air.
- Weigth savings up to 30%
- New innovative high-strength Al-alloys with specific density 40% lower than Ti
- Increased material exploitation >90%
- Increased energy efficiency in process >35%
- Enhanced service life by new innovative repair technologies for AM parts
Increased recycling rate of waste parts >95%
The major goal of BionicAircraft is to develop technologies, tools, and concepts to enhance the resource efficiency of aviation for the entire life-cycle of an aircraft, based on Additive Manufacturing (AM). To achieve the high level objectives, ten workpackages are planned. The developments and results of the project will be continuously tracked and verified, based on specific demonstrators.
The major objectives of the workpackages are the following:
AUTOMATED BIONIC DESIGN & OPTIMIZATION
HIGH STRENGTH AM ALUMINIUM MATERIAL
PRODUCTIVE AND EFFICIENT AM PROCESS
QUALITY CONTROL CONCEPTS FOR AM
EFFICIENT AFTER SALES SUPPLY CHAIN
REPAIR AND RECYCLING CONCEPTS
IMPACT AND STANDARDIZATION
The consortium includes participants from six different countries (Germany, Spain, France, Italy, United Kingdom and Switzerland), with different company sizes, representing the whole life cycle of aircraft parts (design, production, maintenance, overhaul, repair and retrofit), including integration with the standardization system.