Rapid additive forging is a technology using the metal deposition method that is similar to directed energy deposition, and can be applied to produce large titanium parts. Contributed by Prodways
Large metal parts for critical applications, in particular titanium parts for the aeronautical sector relies on expensive and slow manufacturing processes, often use combinations of forging and machining techniques. Certain titanium parts have manufacturing lead times of more than 12 months and this implies significant metal wastes.
The new rapid additive forging (RAF) technology developed by Prodways was built on a continuous research and development effort and a strengthening of its 3D metal printing offering.
The technology has been termed RAF, as similar to the forge process, the additive forging technology uses a distinctive metal deposition technology focusing on the metallurgical quality and the repeatability of the process. The technology was developed in collaboration with Commercy Robotique, a subsidiary of Groupe Gorgé specialised in robotised welding for more than 40 years.
How Parts Are Produced Using RAF
The 3D printer that the company has developed uses a robot equipped with a head depositing molten metal in an atmosphere of inert gas. The metal is deposited layer-by-layer and the large part is completed within a few hours. This technology can quickly manufacture titanium blanks with very similar geometry compared with the final part. These blanks are then finish-machined, thus avoiding considerable losses of material which can represent up to 95 percent of the metal block with traditional machining processes and reduce parts manufacturing time significantly.
Besides titanium parts, this process has been tested on various metals including aluminium. In particular it is used to print titanium, a metal that is seeing increased use in new-generation aircraft. The third generation of the prototype is able to produce parts of more than 70 cm in size. The company is currently developing a version which would print parts of up to 2 m in the main dimension.
With respect to other comparable technologies developed by other companies, the RAF technology uses a distinctive metal deposition technology focussing on the metallurgical quality and the repeatability of the process. The first metallurgical tests conducted on different parts revealed an absence of porosity and greater mechanical resistance compared with usual 3D metal printing techniques using laser or electron beam sintering.
Potential Time And Cost Savings
The RAF technology has attracted the interest of several leading industrial groups including from the aeronautics and oil and gas sectors. Several manufacturers in the aeronautical industry believe this technology family could be applied to nearly 50 percent of the titanium parts used to manufacture an aircraft and generate savings of up to 50 percent on the cost of parts.