RAPOLACProject ID: 30953
Rapid Production of Large Aerospace Components
SMD is a near-net system that allows complex parts to be built directly from the CAD model with minimum finishing. The system creates components in layers, depositing weld material without the need for tooling. Complex parts can be made with improved material properties, and it is possible for hybrid components to be created. The time and material savings are expected to make SMD an attractive option for the manufacture of large aerospace parts. Although capable of making parts, the process requires a great deal of manual intervention and control.
Research will focus on maintaining and controlling the process, maintaining the quality of the microstructure and developing process models (Finite element, process, mechanical, mechatronic) respectively of the 6-axis robot controlled motion in working conditions and of the weld material deposition/solidification process so that a wider variety of materials can be used in the future. Other areas of interest include the environmental benefits, the cost benefit and impacts of using the process. SMD is ideal for use in prototype production as well as in manufacturing, eliminating the need for tooling and shortening development lead-times, reducing aircraft development and operating costs. Near-net manufacture will slash part costs as currently up to 90% of the material is removed.
Operational costs will be affected, as SMD will allow complex, hollowed components to be manufactured that couldn't be produced in any other way, allowing lighter aircraft to be built and reducing fuel costs. It uses no tooling (flexible tooling), will be automated through RAPOLAC research, uses advanced methods to reduce costs (raw materials, machining time, cutting fluids, dies and moulds, tooling) and has low to zero harmful emissions. The objectives will be achieved through 6 WPs - experimental deposition; analysis; modelling and control; environment and cost analysis; management and review; and training and dissemination.