Babcock International Group (Babcock), the defence company and trusted partner of the British Army & UK MOD, is overcoming the long-standing industry challenge of part obsolescence with the help of Plastometrex, an advanced mechanical testing technology provider. Babcock has successfully leveraged Plastometrex’s novel “PIP Testing” technology to enable timely and highly-informed reverse-engineering of obsolete parts for Additive Manufacturing (AM) production, making mission-critical parts available for their customers in record time and with even higher assurances of part performance.
Many defence assets rely on legacy parts that are no longer available in the supply chain. With AM enabling rapid manufacturing of small batch or one-off parts, it addresses the significant issue of part obsolescence faced by the defence industry. To enhance their capabilities and maintain speed through the AM part design and qualification process, Babcock has formed a strategic partnership with Plastometrex, leveraging their innovative Benchtop Plastometer for the mechanical testing of AM parts, conducted by Babcock partners, Additure.
While traditional tensile testing of AM parts usually relies on witness coupons, PIP (Profilometry-based Indentation Plastometry) testing enables users to test directly on a 3D-printed part and in multiple locations, delivering a significantly more detailed understanding of the mechanical properties of the part in a fraction of the time. Further, the Benchtop Plastometer serves as an easily deployable solution that also eliminates the need for extensive machining capability to carry out these tests.
Where obsolete parts lack design data, Babcock will utilise PIP to rapidly build up a comprehensive understanding of each part's mechanical properties, allowing them to reverse engineer and additively manufacture new parts that are fit for purpose.
Lewis Corbett, Design Engineer at Babcock commented: “In the absence of design data, the Plastometer empowers us to analyse the original mechanical properties of the part. Once the part has been additively manufactured, we can compare the properties against those of the original part, ensuring our decision-making process is highly informed.”
Dr Max Burley, Chief Hardware Engineer at Plastometrex had this to add: “With this partnership between Babcock and Plastometrex, AM retrofits are no longer limited by long turnaround times or poor-quality assurance procedures. We are incredibly excited to play a part in revolutionising how MRO services are delivered across industries with unprecedented speed and precision.”
The potential that AM represents to the defence industry is undeniable. Through their collaboration, Babcock and Plastometrex are now proving that this exciting new technology isn’t just promising, but that the adoption of AM is both realistic and achievable.
Find out more about PIP testing for AM here.
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