Simply space! A huge piece of titanium in 6.5 days

    Company SLM Solutions , a leader in the development of the latest technology 3D-printing metals, completed the project for the production of titanium products for the aerospace industry in size 31 x 22,2 cm and a diameter of 21.9.

    Today it is the largest part made on the additive installing SLM 280 with two 400-watt lasers. It was this machine that made it possible to print a product of this size in a relatively short time compared to traditional manufacturing technology.

    The standard size of the build platform in 3D printers of this class is 250 mm x 250 mm. However, the SLM 280 has an enlarged platform measuring 280 mm x 280 mm, which makes it possible to print larger products.

    Thanks to developments in the field of 3D printing with metals by technologyselective laser melting (including titanium) for the needs of the aerospace industry, given the high strength and low weight of this metal, SLM Solutions has become one of the leading companies that fulfill orders for manufacturers of complete equipment. SLM Solutions has managed to overcome the limitations associated with the size of the construction chamber, and other difficulties encountered in the manufacture of large titanium products, and continues to improve its technology in this area.

    3D printing process from titanium powder

    As explained by Mike Hansen, SLM Solutions North American Implementation Engineer, advances in titanium 3D printingespecially important: titanium - the metal is very hard and susceptible to cracking due to high residual stresses, which has become a serious problem. “The geometry of the part was not particularly complicated, but the difficulty was in using such an additive technology to make such a large product out of titanium,” the engineer noted.

    The developed and patented SLM Solutions system consisting of two lasers helped to solve this problem. Processing the product in the overlap zone simultaneously by two lasers made it possible not only to speed up the printing process, but also to manufacture a larger product. SLM Solutions tested the material in the overlap area, which confirmed that there was no difference in the quality of the material between the areas printed by one laser and the areas in the overlap area that the two lasers applied alternately. SLM Solutions engineers performed several iterations to prepare the file and print several test samples to ensure that the task was completed. The client needed a way to produce this product, which would save costs and time, as well as reduce weight .

    “This product is notable for its size and the fact that it was made of titanium in six and a half days without interruption in the printing process,” says Hansen. “The fact that the SLM 3D printer is capable of working for such a long time without requiring cleaning or other maintenance is extremely important in itself.”

    Although 3D printing technology usually attracts attention with its ability to reproduce unique geometry, this product for the aerospace industry was not particularly difficult from this point of view. However, it would hardly be possible to obtain a titanium part of this size in such a short time using traditional machining technology.
    The manufacturing process by traditional machining would take several weeks
    Additive manufacturing technology is not bound by the limitations of traditional machine tools and tools, so we can create more organic forms, and the entire cycle of designing and developing critical products for the aerospace industry is significantly reduced,” Hansen explained.

    Richard Grylls, MD in Metallurgy, Head of Implementation, and CTO of SLM Solutions North America, commented: “Given the size of the product, the manufacturing process using traditional machining would take several weeks; this would require four or five readjustments. In other words, this would be a very expensive process. To manufacture products using casting technologyit would take even more time, since it would take a snap, and the manufacturing process can take up to six months. In addition, traditional equipment has a high cost. We completed the task much faster, although the cost of the product was higher. However, given the time saved, such costs are justified for a critical product of this size. ”

    Turbine blade printed on SLM 280HL additive unit SLM

    Solutions have achieved impressive results in terms of manufacturing speed, quality and densityfinal product. Hansen noted that “meeting strict quality requirements and technical specifications for materials when using titanium in tightly regulated industries such as the aerospace and automotive industries requires numerous material tests and parameter optimization to ensure that the customer receives exactly what he needs ". Aerospace

    Quality Control Requirementsquite extensive: to check the product for voids or porosity, as a rule, such a method of non-destructive testing as computed tomography is used, but the client can choose destructive testing and cut the product. “We first performed non-destructive testing of the product, and then tested it in conditions close to real, installing the product on the engine and working out the resource before failure,” says Hansen.

    With the development of additive manufacturing technology, SLM Solutions is seeing an increasing demand for its solutions. However, materials and manufacturing processes improve so quickly that standards do not keep up with them. “We are increasingly approached by companies that use traditional technologies, but strive to increase production speed while maintaining quality and want to take advantage of additive manufacturing,” added Hansen. “This industry is changing literally every day and is developing very fast, but we are seeing a gap between the pace of development of additive manufacturing technologies and the ability of some industries, in particular aerospace and automotive, to certify new materials and technologies just as quickly.”

    Product dimensions: 31 x 22.2 cm, diameter 21.9 cm
    Material: Ti64
    Printing time: 6.5 days
    Additive installation: SLM 280 with two lasers of 400 W each

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