University West’s research on additive manufacturing with metal deposition is headed by Joel Andersson, a professor of materials science. GKN Aerospace uses the technology to manufacture titanium aircraft engine components. Photo: Andreas Borg
“Our research has a clear sustainability focus. The benefits of additive manufacturing are so great for both the environment and industry that new knowledge in this field can greatly benefit society,” says Joel Andersson, a professor of materials science, University West.
“Industry can design higher performance products. Manufacturing can be made more efficient, faster and more flexible. It also requires significantly less material in manufacturing, reducing the extraction of natural resources. In addition, components and machine parts can be repaired and renovated, greatly reducing consumption of resources.”
A variety of techniques can be used in additive manufacturing (AM) with metal deposition. Joel Andersson heads the research teams working on AM with metal deposition, a research area in which University West plays a leading role in Sweden.
The university started AM research in 2005 in close collaboration with Volvo Aero (now GKN Aerospace). At that time, the work involved developing an AM process for titanium aircraft engine components. Today this is a mature technology used in the company’s production. Aircraft such as the Airbus A350 have AM-made engine components.
“Today we are researching AM processes for other types of components and other metals such as steel, superalloys and aluminium. All of them are high-performance and somewhat ‘difficult-to-manage’ metals with different properties. It requires solid research to determine how each material performs in additive manufacturing and how the manufacturing process, control systems and so on are to be designed.”
Two strategically important research projects in AM with metal deposition are currently underway in cooperation with several industry partners. The SAMw (https://www.hv.se/forskning/forskningsmiljoer/kk-miljon-primus/div.-texter/forskningsprojektet-samw/) project involves additive manufacturing using laser and wire for components made of duplex stainless steel and titanium. Alfa Laval, GKN Aerospace, Permanova and ITW Welding are participating in the project.
In the second project, Tapertech, (https://www.hv.se/en/research/research-projects/production-technology/tapertech/)researchers are working on AM with laser and powder and with arc and wire for high-performance steel components. The research is being conducted in close collaboration with BAE Systems Hägglunds, Uddeholms AB, TRUMPF Masin AB and ESAB AB.
“Both projects involve developing automated, robust and reliable manufacturing processes for high-performance components. To succeed in this effort, we bring together the research team’s broad knowledge of processes, materials, modelling, simulation and mechanical properties.”
The industrial partners represent different parts of the production chain — from suppliers of materials and equipment, to end manufacturers – which is a major asset. In the final stages of the project, the AM processes are to be tested in two different demonstrators.
“The results and experience gained from these projects form a valuable platform for a new major research effort we are planning right now. We hope that the new project can start in July 2022 and that we can bring weld-based additive manufacturing a few steps closer to implementation in industry.”
For more information: Joel Andersson, Professor of Materials Science, University of West