Project 3: Affordable Blisks

Lead Participant: Rolls-Royce plc


The main aim of the Affordable Blisk project was to develop technologies to significantly reduce manufacturing lead time and cost for these complex aerospace components. A blisk (bladed disc) is created as single part by the joining of a blade to a disc, enabling substantial weight and performance benefits, when compared to conventional disc/blades arrangements.
A collaboration between Rolls-Royce, the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), the aim of this project was to reduce the manufacturing cycle times by 30%. This reduction in cost helps to ensure these new technologies are available for civil applications, supporting future engine designs and confirming our competitiveness in this market. During this project, Rolls-Royce employed around 20 staff.
This project successfully developed a multitude of novel blisk technologies including novel fixture design, advanced machining programmes, optimised cutter paths, novel tooling, rapid Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) programmes and novel surface finishing processes.
Collectively, these technologies have generated improvements in blisk manufacture in excess of 30%. The cost of manufacturing titanium-coated silicon carbide fibre is very expensive. The team successfully developed novel fibre coating technologies which exceeded all the project targets with a 45% decrease in coated fibre cost and 100% productivity increase for the Rotherham facility.
The first use of the blisk technologies is aimed for a Trent XWB-97 engine flying test bed. Rolls-Royce is currently in the process of developing the capacity and capability to enable volume production of these complex components, with new Linear Friction Welding processes and capital equipment currently being installed in Rolls-Royce’s Compressor Rotor Facility in Annesley, near Nottingham
In addition, the project developed a Titanium Metal Matrix Composite (TiMMC) process to coat “ceramic fibres”. This technology enables a significant improvement in the strength and stiffness of components, while reducing their weight. The project improved process capability and automation, to drive down cost and enable wider use of the technology across the UK aerospace supply chain.
“The project facilitated the development of the team of Researchers and Engineers specialising in Titanium Metal Matrix Composites, ensuring that the UK maintains its leading position in this field. The technology developed has enabled the broadening of skills and experience as the manufacturing process has been matured. A number of the techniques have found application in other technology areas.”
Richard Scaife, Head of Composites, AMRC Composite Centre

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Rolls-Royce plc, United Kingdom £7,451,001 £ 709,000


University of Sheffield, United Kingdom £775,000 £ 775,000
The Manufacturing Technology Centre Limited, COVENTRY £250,000 £ 250,000


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