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Selective laser melting produces part for aircraft landing gear

In a joint project, SLM Solutions and Safran Landing Systems have used selective laser melting to develop and produce a part for the nose landing gear of a business jet.

This is a world first for a part of this size, according to the partners.

The joint objective of the project is to demonstrate the feasibility to produce a main fitting by selective laser melting. The part was therefore redesigned for metal additive manufacturing, allowing time saving in the whole process and a significant weight reduction of about 15 per cent.

Due to the stringent requirements of the part, which is one of a number that transfer the load from the wheel to the aircraft structure and are retracted after take-off, Safran selected a titanium alloy. This is due to it being a material with high mechanical properties, natural resistance to corrosion and which does not require any surface treatment. 

Thierry Berenger, additive manufacturing project leader at Safran Landing Systems, said: ‘We chose SLM Solutions as a partner, because of their expertise and the SLM 800 machine, which exactly meets our requirements in terms of machine size and reliability.’

With a vertically extended build envelope, the SLM 800 is suited to producing large parts such as that of the landing gear. The machine is equipped with quad-laser technology and innovative features such as patented gas flow and a permanent filter, which ensure high reliability. 

One of the strengths of selective laser melting technology is its flexibility. Designs can be quickly modified, printed and tested, meaning less time is spent during prototype development. 

Gerhard Bierleutgeb, EVP of global services and solutions at SLM Solutions explained: ‘Additive manufacturing contributes to saving time in the qualification and certification phases by rapidly providing the parts for testing. We were able to produce the main fitting in a few days on the SLM 800, versus a few months with the [standard] forging process.’

SLM Solutions is an integrated solutions provider and metal additive manufacturing partner. Safran Landing Systems is a developer of aircraft landing and braking systems with partnerships with 30 airframers in civil, regional, commercial and military transport.