Norsk Titanium, a supplier of 3D printed structural titanium components for the aerospace industry, has announced two significant milestones at the Paris Air Show this week. First, the company has successfully completed the latest phase of Boeing’s Material Allowables Program, which consists of characterizing the company’s Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) process. Second, the company is preparing to enter into the second testing phase for a 3D printed integrally bladed rotor (IBR).
In addition to the two milestones, Norsk Titanium also revealed the first details about its upcoming Gen-IVL RPD 3D printer.
Moving ahead with Boeing
The latest phase of Boeing’s stringent Material Allowables Program saw Norsk successfully complete all pre-production requirements and takes the company a step ahead in the long-term production of select structural titanium parts. This production is expected to begin upon completion of contractual terms.
“We have prepared all necessary production operations facilities, equipment and personnel to coincide with this Boeing milestone enabling high-rate production following qualification,” said Michael Canario, Norsk President and CEO. “Our Plattsburgh, New York facility is truly a 21st century advanced additive manufacturing center of excellence, and the work of the Norsk and Boeing teams to prepare for this moment has been outstanding.”
Norsk has been in continuous production for Boeing ever since the first 3D printed structural titanium part was certified for commercial use over two years ago. Since then, the companies have worked together to develop additive manufacturing applications in the aerospace sector. Last year, Norsk’s New York facility was also added to Boeing’s list of qualified producers.
“Following the initial success, our relationship and activities with Boeing have continued to expand,” Canario added. “We are currently conducting more testing to expand the list of potential part candidates and exploring improvements in the machine to deliver larger, more complex parts.”
Phase two of IBR testing
In addition to the Boeing announcement, Norsk Titanium is also moving ahead on its collaborative project with the University of Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory (NDTL), Pratt & Whitney and TURBOCAM International. The partners are entering the second phase of testing for a 3D printed integrally bladed rotor (IBR).
The initial phase of testing, which wrapped up in 2018, saw the IBR meet 100% of all design, speed and pressure ratio test points. The second phase, for its part, will address the dynamic properties of the IBR, which was produced using Norsk’s RPD process.This will focus on the low and high cycle fatigue characteristics of the 3D printed structure and will include multiple acceleration/deceleration cycles and synchronous vibration tests.
The phase two tests are being conducted at NDTL’s state-of-the-art turbomachinery test facility in South Bend, Indiana. “Successful completion of this testing will show that additive materials can be used in turbomachinery applications, and paves the way to a full qualification effort,” commented Norsk Chief Commercial Officer, Chet Fuller.
The testing was also preceded by a manufacturing qualities evaluation which was performed by TURBOCAM. This evaluation returned positive results, with the IBR showcasing no evidence of alpha case or residual stress concentrations that would cause distortion. The evaluation also found that Norsk’s RPD material was well suited for traditional milling operations and was as stable as Ti6-4 forgings.