GKN Aerospace is to lead a three year, £3.1m GBP, collaborative research program to develop titanium powder specifically formulated and blended to meet the needs of Additive Manufacturing of aerospace components. The TiPOW program (Titanium Powder for net-shape component manufacture) will also commence work developing the techniques and equipment that will produce the powder consistently, in quantity, and at a lower price than today’s material.
Backed by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and the country’s innovation agency, Innovate UK the consortium partners include Phoenix Scientific Industries Ltd, Metalysis and the University of Leeds. As program leader, GKN’s aerospace business will also draw on the expertise of the GKN Powder Metallurgy division a supplier of metal powders and precision engineered components.
Together the partners will investigate developing titanium alloys and powders with the characteristics that are specifically suited to AM. They will then define the production methods that will produce AM-designed materials to ensure cost is minimized while production quality, quantity, and consistency all meet the rigorous standards required by aerospace.
The TiPOW program will also explore effective re-use and recycling of titanium material and a study of potential applications for the recycled material.
“To date research into AM has focused largely on evolving the processes we will require to enter full scale production but if these processes are to make a significant breakthrough, the quality, repeatability, and cost of the material we use will be critical. Working with our industrial and academic partners in the TiPOW program and leveraging expertise from across GKN, we will begin the process of addressing this issue,” stated Russ Dunn, Senior Vice President Engineering & Technology.
The TiPOW program forms one element in a major AM research and development initiative across GKN, and will run alongside another GKN Aerospace-led, ATI supported program called Horizon (AM). This program aims to take a number of promising AM techniques through to viable production processes. Five dedicated AM development centres have been established in North America and Europe each clearly focused on progressing specific additive processes and technologies.
Gary Elliott, CEO of the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) added, “The Aerospace Technology Institute is delighted to be investing in this highly creative project. TiPOW will give us a better understanding and insight into improving airplane performance and will undoubtedly deliver more technological advances to the industry.”
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