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SFM Technology & BigRep, the First 3D-printed Helicopter Blade Restraint Cradle

By BigRep

Industry: Aviation & Aerospace Technology: Fused Filament Fabrication Material: HI-TEMP CF Machine: BigRep PRO

SFM Technology & BigRep, the First 3D-printed Helicopter Blade Restraint Cradle

Pushing the boundaries of flight with precision and innovation: 3D printing revolutionizes the aerospace industry.



Additive manufacturing technology was leveraged by SFM Technology and BigRep to create the first helicopter blade restraint cradle. Aerospace and defense industry leader Leonardo - tasked by the Ministry of Defence to provide AgustaWestland AW101s for the Royal Navy - found that their pre-existing main rotor blade restraint cradles were not meeting to their standards. The helicopter maintenance innovation was necessitated by the need for safety and efficiency during various weather conditions. The challenging situation occurs every time the AugustaWestland AW101 helicopter embarks and the ship rocks back and forth. When a helicopter is on board an aircraft carrier, it has the ability to fold its rotor blades back to protect the blades and the carrier crew. In order not to allow blades to flap, something must restrain the blades. The solution is a 3D-printed main rotor blade restraint cradle, measuring 900 x 230 x 160mm. BigRep decided to use Hi-Temp CF – a carbon fiber reinforced material with versatile, high-strength properties to manufacture the rotor blade restraint cradle. This high-strength engineering-grade filament possesses a high heat deflection temperature of 115℃ and a 65 MPa tensile strength. Considering cost, efficiency, and size, a 3D-printed part proved to be more versatile than a traditional one. Moreover, the 3D-manufactured part is more lightweight than its traditional metal equivalents. Offering automated print bed and extruder calibration, the BigRep PRO has significantly increased the speed and efficiency of SFM Technology’s production process.



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