GKN Aerospace has been contracted by Northrop Grumman to develop components for a solid rocket motor demonstrator. The first Solid Motor Annual Rocket Technology Demonstrator (SMART Demo) successfully tested a new motor developed in less than a year to showcase innovative technologies, including alternative manufacturing materials and processes.
With a focus on shortening production times and unlocking new manufacturing materials and processes, this partnership highlights the importance of additive manufacturing (AM).
Shawn Black, President of the Defense Business at GKN Aerospace, expressed his excitement about working with Northrop Grumman. He emphasized the benefits of additive manufacturing, which can not only lower production costs, but also dramatically reduce delivery times for critical products that support both the armed forces and the commercial aerospace industry.
Shawn Black, President of GKN Aerospace’s Defense Business, said, “We are delighted to collaborate with Northrop Grumman on SMART Demo. Programmes like this underscore the significant benefits additive manufacturing can bring, such as reducing production costs and lead times for mission-critical products that support our Armed Forces and the commercial aviation industry. We are committed to innovation and to rapidly advance this technology to support our customers and to provide greater resilience across the aerospace and defence industrial base.”
GKN Aerospace has been an expert in additive manufacturing for around two decades, with research and technology centers in Sweden, the UK and the US. The company recently announced a £50 million joint investment with the Swedish Energy Agency in advanced additive technologies in Trollhättan, Sweden.
The SMART Demo project demonstrated technologies that could potentially reduce production times by up to 75 percent. In 2022, GKN Aerospace partnered with NGC to produce an 8-foot titanium demonstrator, the largest AM element the company had ever produced.
This collaboration between GKN Aerospace and Northrop Grumman illustrates not only the growing importance of additive manufacturing in the aerospace industry, but also both companies’ commitment to innovation and technological advancement.