Aerosint, Fraunhofer IGCV & Vectoflow Form International Consortium: Additive Manufacturing Research Funded by Eurostars

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An international consortium featuring startup Aerosint (Liège, Belgium), Vectoflow (Munich, Germany), and research institute Fraunhofer IGCV (Augsburg, Germany) has received a substantial grant from the Eurostars program of the Eureka network. The project, slated to run for two and a half years, is projected to cost over €1 million as the team develops the foundation for a series of smart fluid-flow probes 3D printed in optimized geometries.

Each team has already begun leading the way with ‘complementary competencies’:

  • Fraunhofer IGCV has researched co-processing of multiple metals
  • Aerosint has developed a machine technology that adds multi-material capability to LPBF systems
  • Vectoflow has extensive experience designing flow probes for manufacture by LPBF

“To use multiple materials in one printing job opens up a world of possibilities. One immediate need is to directly print thermocouples into probes in the exact shape and position we want, rather than having to stop a build job and place prefabricated thermocouples by hand,” said Katharina Kreitz, co-director at Vectoflow. “We hope to meet this need with the technical competencies of Aerosint and Fraunhofer and with the financial support of the Eurostars grant.”

Currently, the group plans to improve on jet engine and gas turbine flow probes, refining accuracy and longevity with embedded 6temperature sensors. Other classic benefits of additive manufacturing may come into play also offering greater affordability in manufacturing while producing innovative, high-performance parts. The flow probes could be created with multiple materials and used as speed sensors for aircraft fuselage—fending off icing issues that could have the potential to lead to a crash.

“Frozen pitot tubes have been identified as the root cause of several catastrophic commercial airline accidents, including Air France flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in 2009. Multi-material LPBF would allow probe manufacturers to build pitot tubes containing complex-shaped 3D printed heating elements that minimize the distance heat must diffuse to reach the speed sensor channels — making it effectively impossible for ice to form or remain frozen within,” stated the press release regarding the international project.

Laser powder bed fusion (LPBF), using multi-metal and multi-material capabilities, offers the potential for a variety of applications.

“Aerosint’s system enables full control over the placement of voxels of powder from multiple materials, which is a basic requirement for multi-material LPBF,” said Aerosint’s managing director Edouard Moens de Hase.

“It’s really a paradigm shift with respect to the traditional process, but it’s one that’s completely necessary if we want to make multi-material additive manufacturing scalable and useful other than simply for prototyping. We’re happy to have similarly forward-thinking partners in Vectoflow and Fraunhofer IGCV for this Eurostars project.”

While powder recoating processes are critical to the process, so is being able to use multiple materials in a single build. And while it may be possible to change power speeds and other printing parameters for use of materials, the team realizes there may be inherent challenges with materials, causing defects.

“The combination of steel and a copper alloy in a single build process was not thought to be possible mainly due to their very different material properties – especially in terms of thermal conductivity and coefficient of thermal expansion. However, by adapting the scanning order, overlap area between the two materials and tuning the process parameters, we were able to build dense bimetallic parts without imperfections,” said Christine Anstätt of the Fraunhofer IGCV.

The project will begin in October 2019 and run for 30 months, as the team transforms the Aerosint recoating system into an existing LPBF machine—building proof-of-concept demonstrator flow probes.

LPBF printing continues to expand with 3D printing and additive manufacturing, from eliminating porosity to examining the effects of gas chemistry, to setting industry guidelines. What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: Aerosint]

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