A growing number of companies in the aerospace industry are using additive manufacturing in their
designs. Freeforming and additive manufacturing enable the production of small batches of components
at a low cost.
- Examples include:
- • Turbine blades
- • Fuel systems
- • Guide vanes
- • Parts carrying oil or water
- • Structural components for
bulkheads or spars
- • Hollow stem engine valves
Repair and restoration of aerospace components
Laser cladding, also known as laser metal deposition (LMD), is an excellent technique for restoring aerospace parts to their original condition. The process uses a laser beam to fuse deposited powdered metal onto the surface of a component to restore its original dimensions. LMD is an effective repair option for parts that are expensive to replace.
LMD provides a number of advantages compared to processes such as TIG welding, including:
- • Lower heat input
- • Minimized heat affected zone (HAZ)
- • Minimal distortion
- • Faster processing time
- • Better material properties
LMD can be used to restore a variety of aircraft components, including:
- • Vanes
- • Blades
- • Knife edge seals
- • Turbine casings
- • Fuel nozzles
- • Afterburner flaps
- • Turbine shroud segments
- • Bearing housings
- • Compressor seals
American Cladding Technologies is in the process of obtaining our FAA certification to perform laser metal deposition for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work for the aerospace industry. We expect to receive our certification in December 2018.
Create lightweight components for aerospace applications
As the aerospace industry continually seeks ways to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency, freeforming with laser technology offers innovative possibilities for creating parts. Freeforming can be used with a variety of materials, including the titanium components common in the industry. Freeforming, a type of additive manufacturing, uses a laser beam or electron beam and blown metal powder or wire to build up metal components layer by layer. These can be thin-walled or solid builds to any thickness.
Freeforming enables the creation of hollow elements without machining. The process offers many possibilities and applications for the aerospace industry to create lightweight components and reduce machining wastes.
Free forming: In this video, we used laser metal deposition to create a flat sheet of metal to cut out samples for a tensile test, building up the sheet layer by layer. We wanted to see how blown powder compared to a wrought material. The chart on the last frame shows the test results. The blown powder was slightly lower in performance than wrought material, but not too far off.
Freeforming enables the creation of hollow elements without machining.
The process offers many possibilities and applications for the aerospace industry to create lightweight components and reduce machining wastes.
The process can also create new features on existing parts that can then be machined down to dimension. Advantages include cost savings from purchasing less raw material and the ability to build a feature from a different alloy.
This video shows a solid cube built from Inconel 718. The idea is to create new features on existing parts that can then be machined down to dimension. Some advantages are cost savings on raw material (buy less) and the ability to build a feature from a different alloy.