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Powder recyclability in electron beam melting for aeronautical use

Vojislav Petrovic (Advanced Manufacturing Processes, Metal-Processing Research Institute AIMME, Valencia, Spain.)
Rubén Niñerola (Advanced Manufacturing Processes, Metal-Processing Research Institute AIMME, Valencia, Spain.)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 2 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to determine if the level of recyclability of atomized Ti-6Al-4V powder, used as raw material in electron beam melting (EBM), is in compliance with aeronautical standards.

Design/methodology/approach

The adopted strategy for this study was to manufacture a series of builds in the EBM system recycling the same powder from build to build. Optimized EBM process parameters were used, as well as the common procedure of powder recycling for each build, to emulate real production conditions. The aim of the study is to confirm that the powder properties are kept within the range of chemical contents which complies with the aeronautical standards despite numerous reuses.

Findings

The conclusion of this study is that the EBM-processed Ti-6Al-4V powder properties are conserved in consecutive builds with recycled powder. This study shows that significant raw material can be saved by powder recycling since the powder quality is kept in range throughout consecutive builds, despite the working conditions of EBM.

Practical implications

The main two advantages of application of EBM in the aerospace sector are design freedom and reduction of buy-to-fly ratio. The design freedom enables the creation of lightweight structures, which can significantly reduce the fuel consumption, while the reduction of buy-to-fly ratio enables much material saving in manufacturing of aircraft parts.

Originality/value

The present study represents the first complete study on atomized Ti-6Al-4V powder processed in EBM which was made for the sake of aeronautical sector.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The study presented in this paper has been conducted within the framework of the AEROBEAM project: Direct Manufacturing of stator vanes through electron beam melting. This project is funded by the European Union under a Joint Technological Initiative denominated Cleansky in which major European aerospace agents, together with Research Executive Agency, provide assessment and funding for projects of special relevance for the aerospace industry.

Citation

Petrovic, V. and Niñerola, R. (2015), "Powder recyclability in electron beam melting for aeronautical use", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 87 No. 2, pp. 147-155. https://doi.org/10.1108/AEAT-11-2013-0212

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited