The MCAM’s research themes cover the broadest portfolio of metallic materials (titanium alloys, nickel-based superalloys, aluminium alloys, steel, high-entropy alloys). The main focus represents a paradigm shift for manufacturing technology, metallurgical science, and the industrial landscape.
Our research on titanium alloys in MCAM is revealing significant new science in the crucial and much-studied material system. The advanced knowledge has tackled the toughest challenge in titanium alloys, for example creating the strongest titanium fasteners for aircraft. Such titanium fasteners have the highest property requirements of all components: tensile, shear, and notch-fatigue strength (other components usually need only one or two of these). MCAM has also extended the design concept to develop a new titanium alloy for fasteners, yielding a 40% improvement in tensile, shear, and notched fatigue strength compared to the current Ti64 alloy.
The pioneering research on the additive manufacturing of nickel-based superalloy has provided the crucial scientific foundation in the field. The primary research focuses on the safe composition window for the alloy suited for 3D printing that allowed it to remain within its standard composition specification. The theoretical and experimental evaluation of detection capability of defects is providing the criterion for the contrast and detection limit quantification for cost-effective absorption radiography, which is extremely useful for optimising the experimental conditions for quality control of products.
Next generation transportation requires shape-flexible, more durable and lighter metals to improve vehicle performance and fuel efficiency. A series of research on aluminium alloys have provided excellent examples of the new paradigm in additive manufacturing. Recent research has revealed a new Al alloy for additive manufacturing, which can achieve record-high strength at both room temperature and elevated temperatures, protected by a critical international patent. MCAM continues to provide innovative strategies to design and develop novel high-performance aluminium alloys for additive manufacturing.
Simulation and Modelling
MCAM is exploring unique design capabilities whereby components (e.g., from an aero-engine) can be redesigned to make use of additive manufacturing design freedoms to reduce weight without sacrificing performance, in particular fatigue life. Topology optimisation algorithm and stress models have been developed and fine-tuned for this purpose. A titanium impeller produced by additive manufacturing has been optimised and successfully pasted the industrial test in 2018 at 120% over-speed conditions with no observed distortion as per numerical predictions. Since then, the optimisation algorithm and related software had been used by other industrial partners. A substantial amount of work is being done to further the understanding of the process and ways in which they can be tailored to particular needs. In-situ measurements of temperature were made for both the SLM and DLD processes, and this data is driving the process optimisation work currently being conducted. MCAM is also creating custom modules to supplement available commercial software so that they can predict the AM process with better detail.