Prodways Rapid additive forging technology for 3D metal-printing of large parts
Prodways Group, a subsidiary of the Groupe Gorgé, has just presented its new rapid additive forging (RAF) technology for the 3D metal-printing of large titanium parts.
According to the company, this technology has been built on a continuous R&D effort and will further extend its 3D metal-printing offering. The 3D printer developed uses a robot equipped with a head depositing molten metal in an atmosphere of inert gas. The metal is then deposited layer-by-layer and the large part is completed within a few hours – As opposed to conventional methods, where certain titanium parts have manufacturing lead times of over 12 months, with high metal waste – Furthermore, this innovative technology quickly manufactures titanium blanks with very similar geometry compared with the final part. These blanks are then finish-machined, thus avoiding considerable loss of material, which Prodway says is up to 95% of the metal block with traditional machining processes.
The RAF technology was developed in collaboration with Commercy Robotique, a subsidiary of Groupe Gorgé specialised in robotised welding and a patent application has been filed.
This process has been tested on various metals. It is normally used to print titanium, a metal seeing increasing use in new-generation aircraft. The third generation of the prototype is able to produce parts of more than 70 cm. Prodways is also currently developing a version which would print parts of up to 2 m.
RAF technology uses a distinctive metal deposition technology focusing on the metallurgical quality and the repeatability of the process. The first metallurgical tests conducted on different parts revealed an absence of porosity and greater mechanical resistance compared with usual 3D metal printing techniques using laser or electron beam sintering, the company notes.
Several players in the aeronautical industry believe this technology family could be applied to nearly 50% of the titanium parts used to manufacture an aircraft and generate savings of up to 50% on the cost of parts.