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Fraunhofer ILT wins Aviation Week 2012 Innovation Challenge for Additive Manufacturing of BLISKs

The American magazine Aviation Week awards excellent solutions for the aerospace and defense (A&D) industry annually.
Sought-after are new developments, e.g., for sinking production costs and improving integration of innovative technologies. The team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT has won the 2012 Innovation Challenge in the category “Power and Propulsion” for its additive manufacturing process of BLISKs. Representing the entire team, Dr. Ingomar Kelbassa and Johannes Witzel received the award in Washington, D.C. on March 7, 2012.

Turbomachines form the heart of power plants and airplanes. As the need for energy and mobility grows, so too increases the demand for turbomachines as providers of energy. What is currently at stake is designing them in such a way that they produce more energy and less CO2 while using less fuel. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT and the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have made it their goal of implementing processes for the manufacture and maintenance of energy-efficient turbomachines. Together with the Fraunhofer Society and the German Federal State of North-Rhine Westphalia, they have called into life the Aachen Fraunhofer Cluster for Innovation “Integrative Production Technology for Energy-Efficient Turbomachines” with a total volume of 10.25 million Euros. Also part of the project are 16 industrial enterprises, among others global players such as MAN Diesel & Turbo, Siemens PG, Rolls-Royce Deutschland and MTU Aero Engines.

Preserving Resources and the Environment Intelligently

BLISKs are important components for aircraft engine and turbine construction, consisting of disks with integrated compressor blades. Currently BLISKs are produced with conventional manufacturing processes, e.g. five-axis milling, creating a great loss of material and use of energy and time, and causing very high production costs. Within the Fraunhofer Cluster for Innovation “TurPro” – in cooperation with Rolls-Royce Deutschland Ltd & Co KG as well as in partnership with the Fraunhofer IPT – the Fraunhofer ILT has developed a laser-based process that preserves resources during manufacture and maintenance of BLISKs.

In this process, a powder feed nozzle applies a layer of nickel or titanium-based alloy exactly where a blade should be formed on the disc with the highest precision. Then, the laser beam melts the powder and joins it with the underlying material. This way, a compressor blade can be built layer by layer. This additive manufacturing method, Laser Material Deposition LMD, is also suitable for maintaining components. Using the innovative manufacturing technology, the Aachen researchers have been able to save materials by up to 60 percent as compared to conventional processes and to shorten the overall manufacturing time by around 30 percent, all of which slashes the production costs of BLISKS significantly.

Contact Partners at Fraunhofer ILT
Our experts will be glad to any your questions:

Dr.-Ing. Ingomar Kelbassa, Academic and Vice Director
Chair for Laser Technology LLT, RWTH Aachen University
Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT
Telephone +49 241 8906-143

Dipl.-Ing. Johannes Witzel, M. Eng.
Laser Material Deposition LMD
Telephone +49 241 8906-535

Dr.-Ing. Andres Gasser
Group Leader Laser Material Deposition LMD
Telephone +49 241 8906-209

Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT
Steinbachstraße 15
52074 Aachen, Germany
Tel. +49 241 8906-0
Fax. +49 241 8906-121

Axel Bauer | Fraunhofer ILT
Further information:

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