Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New manufacturing process helps metals lose weight

13.12.2005


A pioneering manufacturing process that can turn titanium, stainless steel and many other metals into a new breed of engineering components could have a big impact across industry.



Unlike conventional solid-metal components, the new parts have a tiny lattice-like structure, similar to scaffolding but with poles twice the diameter of a human hair, making them ultra-light. Because loads are channelled along the poles, the parts can comprise up to 70% air while remaining strong enough to perform correctly.

The components could replace solid metal in integrated circuits, automotive applications and many other fields of engineering. Aircraft parts, for example, could be produced that are over 50% lighter than conventional alternatives. The reduction in aircraft weight would cut fuel requirements, bringing down the cost of air travel and reducing the emissions produced by the combustion of aviation fuels that are a major contributor to climate change.


The world’s first commercial-scale system for the rapid manufacture of these new-generation metal components is now being developed by engineers at the University of Liverpool, in collaboration with MCP (Mining and Chemical Products) Ltd and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Harnessing a technique known as selective laser melting (SLM), this fully automated system builds up components, layer by layer, from fine metal powders using an infra-red laser beam to melt the powders into the required structure. Layers can be as thin as 25 microns, making it possible to produce complex parts in which thermal, impact-absorption and many other properties can be distributed in specific places to meet the requirements of particular applications. This is not possible with conventionally manufactured ‘solid’ metals.

For instance, the system can manufacture components designed for use wherever heat is generated and needs to be removed quickly. Such parts might include the heat sinks that cool the processor chips in personal computers. The lattice in these heat sinks can be designed to facilitate heat flow and deliver increased cooling rates, resulting in improved chip reliability and fewer PC crashes.

Although other ways of making some types of latticed metals exist, they do not enable the features of the lattice to be precisely ‘designed in’ to meet customised requirements. The metals they produce are also limited in their usefulness because they have to be machined into the final required shape, rather than ‘built for purpose’ step by step. A typical example is the manufacture of composite components used in motor sport.

The new system’s versatility means it could manufacture better-performing components of this type, as well as products for the healthcare and chemicals sectors. For instance, it is possible to imagine miniaturised chemical reactors being built using SLM and replacing large chemical plants at some point in the future, with substantial benefits in terms of production, flexibility and safety.

The project is building on previous EPSRC-funded work carried out over the last six years by the University of Liverpool team, which is led by Dr Chris Sutcliffe. Dr Sutcliffe says: “There is worldwide interest in developing a standard rapid manufacturing process based on SLM. Our system will produce optimised engineering components that can’t be made in any other way and will give the industry that has supported us a significant advantage in future markets.”

The new manufacturing system, which represents a highly innovative approach to the production of metal components, is due to be in full commercial use next year. The team is already working on a larger version which should be ready for commissioning in around 18 months.

Natasha Richardson | alfa
Further information:
http://www.epsrc.ac.uk

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Quick, Precise, but not Cold
17.05.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht A laser for divers
03.05.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>