12/28/2016 | 2 MINUTE READ

Renishaw Metal AM Technology Improves Performance of Land Rover BAR

Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon

Additively manufacturing is saving time and cost in the production of yacht components.


Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon

The Technical Innovation Group (TIG) for Land Rover BAR uses additive manufacturing technology in various capacities, from prototyping to production. The team has its own, fully equipped traditional machine shop, and it has an extensive composites team. Between them, these facilities can make almost anything, but if the final part can be 3D printed, then that’s the option that will be used.

The highest level of additive manufacturing conducted by the TIG is metal additive manufacturing, using equipment supplied by Renishaw. With this technology, components are manufactured from paper-thin layers (typically 0.05 mm) of fine metallic powder. The system works in an argon inert atmosphere, similar to that inside a light bulb; heat can be applied to melt the metal powder without it burning or reacting with oxygen or impurities found in air. The heat is applied using a laser beam directed by software-controlled mirrors, and focused to accurately weld the areas required to create the part.

One of the earliest components the Land Rover BAR team created using this technology was a custom sheave case for the pulley in the daggerboard lift line. There was a high compressive load involved and it needed good resistance to wear, so metal was the best choice. All high-strength metals have a higher density (weight per volume) than carbon fiber, so to keep weight down the final design was hollow. It would have been very difficult to make this part any other way than additive manufacturing.

“The potential of additive manufacturing in terms of saving weight and improving efficiency is tremendous,” explained Andy Claughton, Land Rover BAR chief technology officer. “For example, we took a long hard look at our hydraulics system. Before 3D printing came along all the parts in this system would have been manufactured by taking metal away from a solid block. The shapes that you can create with this method are limited, so the design is limited and so too is the efficiency.

“Hydraulic fluid doesn’t take kindly to going around hard corners for instance, and there is a loss of power when it has to do so. With traditional techniques this might be the only way you can manufacture the part, but with additive manufacturing you can build it with smooth rounded corners that significantly improves efficiency in the fluid transfers involved.

“In addition to the improvements in efficiency, we can now build it much more lightly as we are only adding material specifically where it is needed. In the past, the geometry of manufacture on a lathe or other cutting tool meant that some material couldn’t be removed and we would have to carry around the excess weight. No longer.”

Renishaw has manufactured several parts for the hydraulics, including a new AM manifold which reduced weight by 60 percent while increasing performance efficiency by more than 20 percent.

David Ewing, Product Marketing Engineer at Renishaw’s Additive Manufacturing Products Division, commented, “The best applications are ones which use the minimum amount of material to achieve the design requirements, offer a functional benefit in service and have been designed with the manufacturing method in mind. Our work on hydraulic parts for the team is a perfect example.”