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Metal 3D printing specialist Sciaky has revealed plans to ship the world’s “largest” Electron Beam Directed Energy (EB) deposition system to aircraft manufacturer Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI).
As part of a new partnership between the companies, TAI is set to install a custom Sciaky 300″ x 108″ x 132″ build volume 300 series Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) 3D printer. Once installed, the large-format system will be used to create titanium aerostructures up to 6 meters in length, during several pilot projects that should help TAI master its deployment of the technology.
“Sciaky’s EBAM systems are the world’s best-selling large-scale metal DED 3D printers, with parts approved for land, sea, air and space applications,” said Scott Phillips, president of Sciaky. “We salute TAI’s vision for innovation and its ambitious plans to 3D print some of the world’s largest titanium aerostructures.”
High-speed metal 3D printing
Offered initially as a service, before being integrated into a turnkey system after increased customer demand, Sciaky EBAM is essentially a process in which an EB gun is used to deposit wire filler layer by layer. With a deposition rate of up to 25 pounds per hour and a dual wire feed system that allows two metals to be combined into a single weld puddle, the approach enables rapid fabrication of custom alloy parts.
Currently, the company markets its EBAM technology both as a service in its 3D printing factory and in the form of its five large-format machines. The largest system in Sciaky’s offering is its 300 Series, which, with its high-efficiency pumping chamber and 280″ x 48″ x 48″ parts envelope, is capable of producing colossal components at a fast pace.
The 3D printer is also equipped with the company’s proprietary Interlayer Real-Time Imaging and Sensing System or “IRSS”. Designed to reduce variability during part production, IRSS is actually a suite of closed-loop sensors, software logic, and CNC controls that monitor key deposition parameters and make real-time adjustments to ensure throughput does not does not come at the expense of the product. quality.
In the past, Sciaky has deployed its technology alongside Airbus to 3D print structural wing parts for its aircraft, and has continually hailed the aircraft chassis, jet engine and missile production potential of the process. Its partnership with TAI is therefore fully consistent. with its broader strategy of targeting heavy aerospace applications.
Sciaky’s deal on Turkish aerospace
While Turkish Aerospace was started under the Turkish Ministry of Industry and Technology to reduce the country’s dependence on defense imports in 1973, TAI itself was only founded in 1984, when it was established as a joint Turkish-American enterprise, responsible for not only building F-16 aircraft, but dealing with their on-board systems integration and flight testing.
Since then, Turkish Aerospace has undergone a broader restructuring that has seen it expand its operations, with the aim of becoming a hub for the development of innovative aeronautical and aerospace technologies. This 2005 overhaul effectively saw the company reorganize into six groups focused on the production of structural components, aircraft, helicopters, UAVs, space systems and domestic combat aircraft.
Having already dipped its toes into 3D printing, working with additive manufacturing group FIT to produce satellite steering device mounts called “star tracker mounts”, TAI has now signed a contract with Sciaky, in part of a deal that is set to take her embrace of cutting-edge technologies one step further, seeing her install a custom EBAM 300-Series 3D printer at her factory in Turkey’s capital, Ankara.
According to Sciaky, after installation and configuration, the machine will be used to “3D print some of the largest titanium aerostructures in the industry.” Although TAI has yet to confirm the exact parts it intends to produce, the term “aerostructure” can describe anything from an aircraft’s fuselage to its wing surfaces, it therefore left a lot of room for the technology to be deployed in his company.
What has been confirmed is that the 3D printer will be used to manufacture titanium parts up to six meters in length, with TAI also set to benefit from its combined EB welding and 3D printing capabilities for applications requiring both. Going forward, Sciaky says he’s committed to a “series of projects” with his new partner, but the delivery schedule for his machine is “still being finalized”.
Wired DED Deployment
While Sciaky’s machines continue to deposit alloys at a record pace, she is far from the only developer of wire DED technology. Reliance Precision and the University of Huddersfield, for example, are working on a new approach to EBAM in an Innovate UK-backed project designed to widen industry adoption of the process.
Elsewhere, in another Innovate-UK programme, Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies (HMT) is leading the development of a new compact wire feed system called ‘FastWireAM’. As part of the project, which was set up to accelerate R&D of the technology, consulting firm TWI and power wire producer Epoch Wires have pledged to optimize its performance and accelerate adoption.
In defense applications, researchers at Penn State’s College of Engineering have also received $434,000 from the US military to develop an improved way to 3D print high-strength alloys. Using a computational modeling approach, the team aims to identify a laser-directed energy deposition (L-DED) setup capable of producing stronger metals with improved material efficiency.
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Featured image shows an engineer using Sciaky’s EBAM 300 Series 3D printer. Photo via Sciaky.