GKN Aerospace leading £3.1M collaborative research to develop titanium powder for 3D printing of aerospace parts
GKN Aerospace will lead a three year, £3.1-million (US$4.9-million) collaborative research program to develop titanium powder specifically formulated and blended to meet the needs of additive manufacturing (AM) of aerospace components. The program, called TiPOW (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.
The TiPOW program is backed by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and Innovate UK. Consortium partners include UK companies Phoenix Scientific Industries Ltd and 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 world-leading supplier of metal powders and precision engineered components.
Today additive manufacturing uses alloys and powders that have not been developed for these processes and so are not optimized for this environment. 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 whilst 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.
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 centers have been established in North America and Europe each clearly focused on progressing specific additive processes and technologies.