Accelerating adoption of AM in Aerospace & Defence: Plastometrex & Leonardo form strategic collaboration

Published on 23 February 2023

Investing in its first Indentation Plastometer from Plastometrex, Leonardo is set to overcome the industry challenge of timely 3D-printed part qualification. This novel mechanical testing technology measures the strength of metallic materials from an automated 5-minute indentation-based test, allowing users to accelerate testing turnaround times 80-fold whilst reducing testing costs by up to 90%. Since its commercial launch in 2021, the Indentation Plastometer has gained increasing traction in the additive manufacturing sector, including with recognisable OEMS, to support faster testing and qualification of new materials, machines, and parts.

Mark Jackson, Research & Innovation, and David Wragg, Senior Metallic Materials Engineer at Leonardo Helicopters UK, had this to say about the collaboration:

“Materials testing and qualification is the bedrock of any robust manufacturing process and new testing tools are needed to support the adoption of AM in industry. We are delighted to be working with Plastometrex, a technology-forward company whose unique technology platform will enable us to assess, improve, and deploy additive parts far more efficiently than previously possible.”

Plastometrex CTO, Dr Jimmy Campbell, oversees the installation of Leonardo's first benchtop Indentation Plastometer
Plastometrex CTO, Dr Jimmy Campbell, oversees the installation of Leonardo's first benchtop Indentation Plastometer

The two companies will be collaborating in several areas, including the characterisation of parts made via Bound Powder Extrusion (BPE) and mapping property variation of parts as a function of build height and lateral position. Leonardo will also be supporting Plastometrex with the advancement of a dedicated test standard, a project that is already underway in collaboration with the ASTM AM Centre of Excellence.

Jimmy Campbell, CTO at Plastometrex, had this to say about the relationship:

“We are excited to work with the team at Leonardo to accelerate the utilisation of new technologies in the aerospace and defence markets. As two innovative companies, we are looking forward to a rewarding collaborative journey together.”

The Indentation Plastometer can be demonstrated at the iAero Centre in Yeovil - a new, world-leading 2,398m^2 research, design, and innovation facility, created to support the growing aerospace and defence sectors in the South West region of the UK. The facility is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, HM Government, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP), and Leonardo, acting as a hub for the creation of new collaborations, solutions, and development of high-value engineering skills in the area.

About Leonardo Leonardo, a global high-technology company, is among the top world players in Aerospace, Defence and Security and Italy’s main industrial company. Organised into five business divisions, Leonardo has a significant industrial presence in Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland and the USA, where it also operates through subsidiaries that include Leonardo DRS (defense electronics), and joint ventures and partnerships: ATR, MBDA, Telespazio, Thales Alenia Space and Avio. Leonardo competes in the most important international markets by leveraging its areas of technological and product leadership (Helicopters, Aircraft, Aerostructures, Electronics, Cyber Security and Space). Listed on the Milan Stock Exchange (LDO), in 2020 Leonardo recorded consolidated revenues of €13.4 billion and invested €1.6 billion in Research and Development. The company has been part of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) since 2010 and has been confirmed among the global sustainability leaders in 2021. Leonardo is also included in the MIB ESG index.

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