Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Light Flight With Laser Light

27.09.2012
AERONAUTICAL ENGINEERING: WEIGHT-LOSS THROUGH HI-TEC USE OF LASER

More than 50 percent weight savings in aircraft construction is now possible using hypermodern production techniques. A process called 3-D laser sintering of the raw material permits a completely new kind of fabrication. This process can reduce aircraft component part counts and improve designs, leading to enormous savings in weight and volume.

The only equipment for this process in Austria - and at its time the second in the world - is located at FOTEC in Wiener Neustadt. The research subsidiary of the University of Applied Sciences located there is presently optimising the monitoring and quality control of the production process, while manufacturing a fuel collector for an aircraft engine that is even around 75 percent lighter than before.

In aeronautical engineering, every kilogram counts. Reducing weight saves kerosene and makes a fleet operator more competitive. However, safety requirements and construction-related restraints place limits in the quest to drop weight. These restrictions are set to be eased now by a completely innovative kind of 3-D manufacturing process: metal laser sintering.

LASER SINTERING TAKES OFF

The method is still so new that there are only a few professional production machines worldwide. One of them is located at FOTEC Forschungs- und Technologietransfer GmbH in Wiener Neustadt. Using this machine, a laser-sintered prototype fuel collector has now been fabricated for Austrian aircraft manufacturer Diamond Aircraft Industries GmbH. Dr. Gerhard Pramhas, Managing Director of FOTEC, on the impressive results of the titanium alloy work piece: "Using laser sintering, we were able to reduce the number of components from five down to one. Along with that went a weight reduction of 77 percent as well. This was made possible through the unique manufacturing technique."

The raw material for laser sintering is a metallic powder. This is mechanically built up layer-by-layer to a powder base. After applying each layer, the powder is melted by a laser at specified locations. Subsequently, an additional layer of powder is applied and melted again at the pre-calculated locations. In this way, even the most complex components can be manufactured as one piece, one layer at a time. Basically, this is what is known as a rapid prototyping process, carried out in this case with metal using a laser. The responsible department head, Dr. Rolf Seemann, explains: "We are speaking of additive manufacturing in this case. It is common to create components from an amorphous raw material by accumulation. The innovative leap is the capability of processing metal. So instead of plaster or plastic prototype models, fully functional individual parts can be produced - such as a fuel collector - thanks to this material."

Until now, the part had consisted of five individual pieces produced on a lathe that subsequently were customarily welded together. The pieces are partly hollow to facilitate fuel flow. And in addition, one of the components is threaded, which requires a separate step during production. With laser sintering of metal, the entire fuel collector with galleys and threads is able to be fabricated in one step. The production accuracies are in the range of hundreds of a millimetre and, in addition to the weight, the volume of the fuel collector could be reduced by almost 60 percent.

CREATION INSTEAD OF REPLICATION

Dr. Seemann´s team actually succeeded in manufacturing an exact geometrical and functional replica of the original fuel collector. "But replication is actually only something compulsory," explains Dr. Pramhas. "The real leap is creating completely new construction designs for work pieces that utilise all of the advantages of 3-D laser sintering. Because this opens up options that can never even be realised for metallic work pieces using traditional manufacturing methods such as milling, turning and drilling. A simple example of this is a drill hole that previously could only run straight, but can now be led around a corner with any arc you want."

Although the facility at FOTEC is actually suited to industrial fabrication, the present focus of activity is directed elsewhere, as Dr. Pramhas explains: "The quality of the process strongly depends upon the optimal laser melting process. To control this, we would like to develop an optical technique that operates during the production process. In the next stage of development, optical monitoring will provide direct information to an adaptive control process so that the quality of the work pieces remains just as high for larger production runs." Although metal sintering with lasers is more suited for production of single pieces, production can easily be increased to several hundred per year. Certainly a sufficient number for aircraft constructions, in which laser sintering of metal could play a greater role in the future.

A video about 3-D laser sintering at FOTEC can be viewed here (in German only): http://www.wntv.at/hd/?module=player&id=6933

Contact FOTEC:
Prof.(FH) DI Dr. Gerhard Pramhas, MBA
Managing Director
FOTEC Forschungs- und Technologietransfer GmbH Viktor
Kaplan-Straße 2
2700 Wiener Neustadt, Austria
T +43 / (0) 2622 / 90333-0
E pramhas@fotec.at
Copy Editing and Distribution:
PR&D - Public Relations for Research & Development
Mariannengasse 8
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / (0) 1 / 505 70 44
E contact@prd.at
W http://www.prd.at

Dr. Josef Handzel | PR&D
Further information:
http://www.fotec.at
http://www.wntv.at/hd/?module=player&id=6933

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New gel-like coating beefs up the performance of lithium-sulfur batteries
22.03.2017 | Yale University

nachricht Pulverizing electronic waste is green, clean -- and cold
22.03.2017 | Rice University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>