AFRL Achieves Breakthrough in High-Speed Matching of Titanium
By Plans and Programs Directorate, AFRL/VS
/ Published December 12, 2006
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- AFRL and Third Wave Systems, Inc (Minneapolis, Minnesota), collaborated to cut the time and cost of titanium machining. Entering into a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) agreement, the team reduced titanium machining time by 30%.
The use of titanium alloys in aircraft manufacturing continues to increase over time due to the element's high strength and low weight. Manufacturers use titanium alloys for jet engine discs, blades, shafts, and casings because the alloys can operate at temperatures ranging from subzero conditions to 600°C. Structural engineers specify that titanium alloys be used on airframes in several capacities--from small fasteners that weigh less than an ounce to large wing beams that weigh up to a ton.
AFRL and Third Wave Systems used AdvantEdge™, a finite element machining model, to reduce machining cycle time by 30%, unit cost for the customer (without reducing profitability), and manufacturing risk by understanding the cutting process at the microlevel. AdvantEdge analyzes machining processes, such as milling, drilling, and turning processes, to improve machining rates and tool performance. The software predicts cutting forces and temperatures in the tool and work piece to optimize cutting conditions. The US Navy and the Department of Energy are also using AdvantEdge to achieve cycle-time reductions.
During Phase I of the SBIR project, the software demonstrated the possibility of reducing costs and improving the rate of productivity. In Phase II, the application of AdvantEdge and high-speed machining technologies reduced machining cycle time by 30%. Third Wave Systems subsequently received a Phase II enhancement to continue this research effort. During this enhancement effort, researchers fortified the modeling and software technology, making it useful for computer numeric control programmers. As a result of this enhancement endeavor, Third Wave Systems has entered into another SBIR contract with AFRL to apply the technology to additional engine components with complicated design features.