Technologies for the future
Constant investment into research and development play a key role in our long-term vision and strategy. This allows Liebherr-Aerospace and Transportation Systems to develop technologies that are employed in next generation aircraft and rail vehicles as well as in the automotive industries.
3D printing – the future emerging from the laser melter
Additive manufacturing is the name given to a process which uses digital 3D design data to build up a component layer-by-layer by melting material. The term "3D printing" is used more and more often as a synonym for additive manufacturing. However, additive manufacturing is a better description, indicating that the process involved is a professional production process which differs significantly from conventional subtractive manufacturing methods. Instead of milling a part from a solid block, for example, additive manufacturing builds up components layer by layer from materials which come in fine-powder form. Materials available include a variety of different metals, plastics and composites.Print & Fly - discover 3D printing applications developed by Liebherr
Examples of 3D printed products developed by Liebherr-Aerospace
Valve block for a spoiler actuator
New Technologies, Infinite Possibilities
World premiere: In March 2017, an Airbus A380 took off for the first time with a titanium valve block from Liebherr-Aerospace’s 3D printer and successfully completed its route. Never before has a hydraulic primary flight control component made from titanium powder using an additive manufacturing process been used in an Airbus.
The valve block is part of Liebherr-Aerospace’s spoiler actuator and fulfills a number of important functions on board the A380, when it comes to maneuvering the airplane, for example, and braking after landing. The 3D printed component works like a traditional forged valve block but has two crucial advantages: It is 35 percent lighter and is made up of fewer individual parts.
For several years, there has been a strong trend towards more electric systems for the next generation of aircraft. This approach will allow to improve safety and to increase the overall efficiency of the airplane while decreasing noise emissions and fuel burn.
The more electric systems developed by Liebherr are designed to achieve such challenges, decreasing weight and engine consumption thanks to the ability to adjust, for each flight phase, the energy generation to the precise needs of the onboard consumers.
Technologies for tomorrow
To be ready for the aircraft that will enter service in the future, Liebherr-Aerospace, in line with the long-term vision of the Liebherr Group, consistently invests above industry-average ratios into the R&D activities in its fields of expertise: landing gears, flight controls, actuation, gears and gear boxes and air management systems.
In particular, Liebherr works on such topics as next generations of electric actuators, e-taxiing, electric wing, electric environmental control system, auxiliary power generation systems, hydraulic power supply, and thermal and power management on-board the aircraft.
The future of aviation has begun – find out in our story how Liebherr is a part of it.
Video: Clean Sky/Airbus Flight Lab
Originally, air cycle air conditioning technology was developed for the aerospace industry, where it has been used for more than four decades for air conditioning in aircraft. As one of the very first companies, Liebherr also began employing this technology in rail vehicle equipment. In 2002, Liebherr-Transportation Systems fitted a train of German operator Deutsche Bahn AG (DB) – an ICE 3 – with air cycle air conditioning systems for test runs. Additional fittings for the first model series as well as 13 eight-car trains of the second model series of the ICE 3 followed.Learn more about Liebherr’s participation in the ICE 3
For more than one decade, Liebherr has been collaborating with major automotive manufacturers to develop the future generation of fuel cell vehicles.
Liebherr-Aerospace’s air bearings technology for centrifugal compressor developed for aerospace activities powered by a high-speed electric motor has been identified as the best candidate to supply compressed and pressurized air to the fuel cell system.
Already 20 years ago, Liebherr started to develop technologies for power generation based on fuel cells. It all started with motorized compressors for automotive fuel cell systems, which have been developed and matured in cooperation with major automotive manufacturers around the globe. In the meanwhile those efforts have paid off and Liebherr compressors have entered into serial production, for example for the PROME P390 fuel cell system powering the new MPV model EUNIQ 7 of Chinese car manufacturer SAIC Maxus Automotive.
Due to its wide experience of highly-integrated on-board aerospace systems, Liebherr was also one of the first technology companies involved in the development of fuel cell application on board of an aircraft, like the replacement of the ram air turbine or the auxiliary power unit (APU).
In 2018 General Motors and Liebherr announced an agreement to explore opportunities and to collaborate on the development of fuel cell systems for aircraft applications, based on latest fuel cell stack technology developed by General Motors.
The use of hydrogen on board of an aircraft for propulsion or generation of electricity is expected to become reality within the next 15 years. Liebherr is investing research and technology effort to be part of this revolution by supplying a power generation system based on fuel cell technology, to provide electrical power for all aircraft systems. This will relief the next generation aircraft engines from any off-takes, which are today reducing the engine efficiency.
The power generation system development will be supported by Liebherr’s unique component design system integration and test capabilities in its test center in Toulouse, where electrical loads and thermal loads can be coupled in order to optimize the system performance.
Electrical Environmental Control System
Liebherr-Aerospace has developed an Electrical Environmental Control System (eECS) within the European Clean Sky research program, part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 program. Instead of taking air from the engine, the eECS takes and uses air from outside the aircraft, i.e. ambient air, in order to process it for both pressurization and air conditioning. Find out more about the eECS at the Clean Sky virtual fair
Dynamic Management of Electrical and Thermal Power
Liebherr-Aerospace Lindenberg GmbH
- Phone+49 8381 46-0
- Fax+49 8381 46-4377
Liebherr-Aerospace Toulouse SAS
408, avenue des Etats-Unis
31016 Toulouse Cedex 2
- Phone+33 5 613528-28
- Fax+33 5 613528-00