Northrop Grumman Taps GKN Aerospace for 3D Printed Solid Rocket Motors –

At first of January, UK aerospace producer GKN Aerospace introduced it was investing over $60 million to spice up its additive manufacturing (AM) capability in Trollhättan, Sweden. Now, GKN is asserting that the corporate has been chosen by US protection big Northrop Grumman to deploy its AM capabilities for stable rocket motor (SRM) manufacturing.

In December 2023, Northrop introduced that it had efficiently examined a newly developed SRM in its Strong Motor Annual Rocket Know-how Demonstrator (SMART Demo). On the time, the protection contractor famous that “a number of progressive applied sciences” contributed to the undertaking; nonetheless, the corporate didn’t reveal who the producers concerned have been.

The newest announcement confirms that not less than one of many corporations taking part within the profitable SMART Demo was GKN Aerospace, and that GKN’s new laser metallic deposition – wire (LMD-w) AM course of is among the core enabling applied sciences for Northrop’s ramped-up SRM actions. In accordance with GKN, the brand new motor was developed in lower than a yr because of the LMD-w method — the premise for a system known as the Cell 3 — housed on the firm’s International Know-how Heart in Spherical Rock, Texas.

In a press launch in regards to the undertaking, President of Protection Enterprise for GKN Aerospace, Shawn Black, stated, “We’re delighted to collaborate with Northrop Grumman on SMART Demo. Applications like this underscore the numerous advantages [AM] can convey, resembling lowering manufacturing prices and lead occasions for mission-critical merchandise that assist our Armed Forces and the industrial aviation trade. We’re dedicated to innovation and to quickly advance this know-how to assist our prospects and to offer larger resilience throughout the aerospace and protection industrial base.”

GKN Aerospace’s Cell 3 3D printer

SRMs are one of many parts that the Division of Protection (DoD) seems to be prioritizing most extremely, within the company’s push to reshore US manufacturing. Round per week earlier than Northrop Grumman’s announcement of the profitable SMART Demo, the DoD’s Undersecretary of Analysis and Growth, Heidi Shyu, introduced {that a} program she heads, the Speedy Protection Experimentation Reserve (RDER), had just lately chosen three tasks to maneuver from R&D to manufacturing.

Whereas Shyu didn’t identify the tasks chosen, C4ISRNET reporter Courtney Albon identified that the primary spherical of capabilities that had begun testing for the RDER in March 2023 have been associated to long-range missile fires. Additionally not lengthy earlier than Shyu’s announcement and the SMART Demo, in November 2023, Colorado-based area startup Ursa Main Applied sciences introduced the corporate’s Lynx course of for SRM manufacturing.

GKN Aerospace is an particularly vital firm to control, given its R&D foothold within the US, UK, and Sweden, which at the moment are all NATO international locations. The DoD’s just lately launched Nationwide Protection Industrial Technique locations a robust emphasis on the more and more essential function of alliances within the US’s evolving plans for constructing its future nationwide safety infrastructure. Its mixture of geographic attain, positioning between primes and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and uniquely forward-looking technological prowess means GKN is precisely the form of firm that DoD intends to mobilize into motion to realize its reshoring objectives.

Photographs courtesy of GKN Aerospace