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Safran Assembling ‘Add+’ Helicopter Engine with 30% 3D-Printed Components

By Brian Garrett-Glaser | June 18, 2019
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Photo: Cyril Abad/Safran

Safran is working quickly with European partners to introduce additive manufacturing techniques into its engine production, unveiling an engine tech demonstrator it calls “Add+” with 30 percent 3D-printed components.

Development of the demonstrator, based on an Arrius helicopter engine, began in early 2018 and assembly is now in progress. It is scheduled for a ground-run next fall.

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“Add+ brings together additive manufacturing expertise from across the Safran group,” said Etienne Hesse, Add+ program coordinator at Safran Helicopter Engines. “We started work on an existing engine model and redesigned almost 30 percent of its components using additive manufacturing techniques, with a view to integrating those components into serial production units. When we start ground runs, we will evaluate behavior of these new parts in operation.”

Add+ mostly features selective laser melting (SLM) processes, which were used to produce nozzle guide vanes, the combustion chamber and the stator rear module, bringing down the overall part count significantly, according to 3D Printing Media Network. The engine demonstrator is being developed and built at Safran’s facility in Bordes, France.

The Add+ engine. (Safran)

Safran Landing Systems also announced it will work with Canadian additive manufacturing firm Burloak Technologies to develop 3D-printed landing gear components.

“We have a proven track record in developing complex, additively manufactured aerospace components for flight, and this collaboration will demonstrate the commercial viability and significant advantages of additive manufacturing compared to traditional processes for critical, large-format airframe components,” said Peter Adams, president and co-founder of Burloak Technologies.

The two companies are displaying a jointly-developed generic brake sleeve prototype at the Paris Air Show.

Also announced at Paris, Safran made the first ground run of its Tech TP, a turboprop tech demonstrator based on an Ardiden 3 turboshaft, under development with more than 20 European partners as part of the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

The Tech TP aims to validate technologies required to develop a new generation turboprop with compact, lightweight architecture that Safran estimates would offer 15 percent lower fuel consumption and carbon emissions than current engines.

"This first run is a very important milestone toward the validation of a new European turboprop engine, due to enter the market in the coming years and offering increased performance, competitive operating costs and low environmental footprint," said Didier Nicoud, EVP of engineering at Safran Helicopter Engines.

The continuing Tech TP test campaign will validate the behavior of a complete propulsion system, integrating a gas generator, nacelle, air intake and propeller. It will also evaluate the case for more "electric" technologies, notably in the accessory gearbox and propeller controller components.

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