Revolutionising titanium-alloy parts manufacture

Posted on 24 Nov 2014 and read 1873 times
Revolutionising titanium-alloy parts manufactureBirmingham-based Delcam plc ( has partnered with Cranfield University, Airbus Group and the University of Bath to look at the use of additive layer manufacturing (ALM) in the production of titanium alloy aircraft components.

The £995,000 project, which began at the Cranfield University Welding Engineering and Laser Processing Centre in January, is looking at the industrial potential of Rawfeed — the rolling-assisted wire-feed direct deposition method of producing high-value aerospace components.

The aim of the ‘3-D printing’ process is to reduce waste in the manufacture of titanium components from the current figure of 80-90% to 30-35% — and increase production rates 50-fold compared to components manufactured using conventional methods.

The Rawfeed process uses a welding torch to deposit a continuous bead of material on a titanium baseplate, creating the first layer of the component. The layer is allowed to cool and is then rolled to enhance the material’s properties. This process is repeated until the required 3-D shape is achieved.

Adrian Addison, manager of Cranfield University’s Rawfeed project, said: “As a leader in the field of wire deposition, we are using a large friction-stir-welding machine from a previous TSB-funded project as the test bed for the process. This large gantry machine can provide the forces and motion control required for the cold-rolling requirements of the process.”

Delcam is providing the control software for the project, while the University of Bath’s Laboratory for Integrated Metrology Applications will develop a measuring system that will help to control the process and optimise quality.

Curtis Carson, head of systems integration at Airbus Group, said: “Airbus currently procures £250 million of these components every year, so the savings in terms of waste and production efficiency are enormous.

"This project is a continuation of the work to date on additive layer manufacturing and confirms its potential for industrial-scale application. Rawfeed could dramatically transform the way high-value aerospace components are manufactured.”

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