F-35 Airframe GKN Success Story

After its St. Louis, Missouri, facility began reaping the benefits of using TWS’ Production Module software, GKN Aerospace executives wanted to conduct a broader-scale evaluation of the technology. However, the objective was not only to reduce recurring costs incurred due to machining, but to drastically reduce nonrecurring optimization costs, as well. With funding from the U.S. Air Force, GKN engineers took a novel approach to Production Module implementation, utilizing a tooling library to apply pre-determined machining constraints across various component operations. As the tooling library expanded, non-recurring labor costs tied to optimization efforts decreased, while recurring machining cost savings continued to be realized.


Seven F-35 structural airframe components machined from titanium forgings were used for the software evaluation. Primarily milled to a semifinished state, parts ranged from 328 cubic inches to 1254 cubic
inches in size.


  • TWS engineers train GKN staff on Production Module capabilities
  • GKN programmers characterize and input approximately 50 tools into a universal tooling library
  • With support from TWS engineers, GKN programmers use Production Module to apply tooling library parameters across the seven component toolpaths


  • Non-recurring costs (optimization labor hours) dropped as tooling library parameters were input and applied to components
  • Recurring costs (machining time) were reduced for all components
  • All machining trials for optimized toolpaths ran successfully

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