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The government is set to invest £90m into five major innovate aerospace projects that have the potential to revolutionise the field of aerospace manufacturing.

The projects set to benefit from the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme range from a 3D printer for precise metal components, automatic wire manufacturing and development into composite materials for wings, according to a Gov UK press release.

The focus of the grants primarily focuses on simplifying and speeding up the production of high-quality aerospace parts, using technologies such as electron beam welding and 3D printing, as well as creating ever more lightweight materials.

The latter aspect is particularly important as weight is the primary factor as to whether certain flight plans are possible, and the less heavy the plane is, the less fuel is required to travel a given distance.

This also creates the potential for hybrid and electric powered aircraft in the future.

The five projects that are set to receive the grant money include:
  • Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development (ASCEND) – This consortium, which includes GKN Aerospace and McLaren Automotive is focused on technology development for creating composite materials.
  • Large Scale Additive Manufacturing for Defence and Aerospace (LAMDA) – This project is set to develop a 3D printer for metal components, which will allow small parts to be mass-produced with a greater level of consistency.
  • Smarter Testing – The initiative, led by Airbus, aims to create a new testing process for aircraft and their various parts, which will combine virtual tests with physical ones to reduce development time and costs.
  • Connected Reconfigurable Factory (COREF) – This attempts to bring smart industry concepts, tools and processes to more complex low volume manufacturing, creating two innovation laboratories that can help to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
  • LiveWire – A system for automating wiring, currently a process that is undertaken by hand, which will lead to better-performing electronics at a lower cost.