3D Printing Helps Build Wind Tunnel

3D Printing Helps Build Wind Tunnel

The new wind tunnel model of the LEONARDO tiltrotor AW609 manufactures developed by CRP Technology for Leonardo Helicopter Division (Leonardo HD, formerly known as Agusta Westland) is among the most interesting and significant applications in the aerospace sector.

This project allowed CRP Technology, once again, to highlight the perfect union between advanced 3D printing technology (Selective Laser Sintering) and Windform® high-performance composite materials. Thanks to the Windform® materials, it was possible to complete and test the model in the wind tunnel within a very short time, with excellent results and with high-performing mechanical and aerodynamic properties.

The project related to the manufacturing of some external parts (nose and cockpit, rear fuselage, nacelles, external fuel tanks, fairings) of the wind tunnel model (1:8.5 scale) for the prototype of the new LEONARDO HD tiltrotor AW609, made by Selective Laser Sintering technology and Windform® XT 2.0 Carbon-composite material, both supplied by CRP Technology.

This model was designed, manufactured and assembled under the supervision of Leonardo Helicopter Division by Metaltech S.r.l. for a series of dedicated low speed wind tunnel tests. The tests were intended to cover a standard range of flight attitudes to be performed at Leonardo HD wind tunnel facility and at Politecnico of Milan for the high angles of flight envelope. During the different test sessions various external geometries have been changed and checked in order to understand all the aerodynamic phenomena.

The external main components redesigned and manufactured include: fuselage and nose components, fairings, nacelles and spinner shapes, empennage, wings and flaperons.

As part of a thorough review of the aircraft behavior, Leonardo Helicopter Division has performed a high
speed test campaign at NASA Ames Unitary Plan 11 by 11 foot transonic wind tunnel.

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