JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Two robotic welding machines are fabricating steel-aluminium aircraft wing ribs using a wire + arc additive manufacturing process (WAAM) which deposits layers of metal from a wire in a technique derived from welding. Items produced by this method are subsequently machined to a conventional finish but the time taken to manufacture such pieces from steel, aluminium, titanium, copper and other metals, alloys and composite materials is significantly shorter than using conventional methods, with considerable cost savings. The concept was first described in 1927 but developments in robotic control are creating interest in its possible importance in the manufacture of, for instance, aircraft parts which are conventionally machined from solid blocks of metal. Photographed at Cranfield University, UK.
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