With its new campus, Safran launches the aircraft of the future

It is in Haillan, on the outskirts of Bordeaux, not far from the training center of the Girondins de Bordeaux soccer team, that Safran has really just given the three strokes of the plane of the future. On Friday, October 7, the French engine manufacturer inaugurated the Safran Additive Manufacturing Campus (SAMC), a complex that brings together in a single 12,000 square meter location all the knowledge and industrial resources necessary for the production of engine parts through additive manufacturing. This advanced technology is a way to adapt to the 3D printing industry. It brings together all the processes that make it possible to manufacture parts by adding material from a digital object. It is the first plant of this type in France and the second in the world.

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As Safran explains, “Additive manufacturing is a real asset for the aeronautical sector, because it allows the production of parts that were previously impossible to obtain by other manufacturing methods”. In practice, with regard to 3D printing, fine metallic powders, titanium, nickel or aluminum, are successively deposited on a plate, while a laser beam melts the metal and shapes the piece, previously developed by computer. In the SAMC you have to put on a gown and an FFP3 mask, even more filtering than the FFP2 that was used to protect against the coronavirus, before entering the production area, the “holy of holies”.

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For Safran, this new plant represents “a strategic issue”. The group has invested €80 million in Haillan to bring this technology to the industrial stage. It must be said that additive manufacturing makes it possible to optimize the geometry of the parts. This means that, unlike production in a foundry or forge, the process allows only the useful part or parts of a part previously designed on a computer to be manufactured.

“Decarbonizing the aerospace industry”

The engine manufacturer and, in general, the aeronautical sector see the arrival of additive manufacturing as a boost to the implementation of the aircraft of the future and carbon-neutral air transport by 2050. An objective voted on Friday, October 7 by the 193 member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), meeting in Montreal. Additive manufacturing is “decarbonize the aeronautical industry”exclaims François-Xavier Foubert, CEO of SAMC. Mainly, because it will allow to produce “much lighter parts”. A “20% to 30% mass gain” which is a game changer, welcome to the manager. When in a foundry, to produce a 1 kilo part, you have to use 10 kilos of material, with additive manufacturing a 400 gram part only requires 600 grams of raw material.

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