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Initial Investigation of Arc Based Additive Manufacturing

Project Code: 30177


  • To provide publishable background information on arc based AM of common engineering metals
  • To design and build by arc based processes some generic demonstration pieces to allow an accurate assessment of process economics and generate first design rules for arc based AM 

Project Outline

Additive manufacture (AM) using an arc process and wire is seen as an important topic with increasing interest across a range of industry sectors. The concept of this programme is, in the first instance, to generate information for arc based additive manufacturing (AM) covering materials selection, material properties and microstructure, deposition rate and process economics and reliability for relatively simple generic structures.

This project will initially generate simple walls in a range of materials and grades including carbon steels, stainless steels, aluminium alloys, nickel based alloys and possibly titanium. Data for productivity, energy consumption, cost and difficulty will be collected during manufacture. The walls will be examined for microstructure and subjected to simple mechanical testing such as tensile, fracture and bend testing.

A series of generic test parts will be designed, based upon input from members; these will be representative of the different types of structures that are required by industry, such as airframe parts, valve bodies, electronics enclosures and automotive structures. These parts will be manufactured in relevant materials, including multi-material structures for corrosion resistant valve bodies. The different approaches for build methodology, complexities, reliabilities and process economics will be studied and the results presented as a report.

Relevant Industry Sectors

Industry Need

Additive manufacturing is a group of technologies that are growing in both popularity and potential for application into industry.  As process exposure grows, more users identify potential applications, but require background information to properly select and design for these processes. Whilst TWI can provide this information for laser and EB systems, there has been a lack of focus on arc based AM processes, partly due to equipment availability, which has been resolved through the recent commissioning of a state-of-the-art integrated robotic-MIG/MAG welding cell.

Until recently, AM has focused on reduction of scrap with high value materials such as used predominately by the aerospace industry. However, recently there has been significant interest in using AM for manufacture of larger components in less exotic materials, as means of reducing lead times for components e.g. in the oil and gas industry. Arc based processes using a wire lend themselves to these type of components.

Additive manufacture is now a relatively mature process, particularly using laser and electron beam processing. However, although arc based processing has been carried out for many years (both at TWI and other organisations), industry is only now becoming interested.  Other research organisations have taken this up and TWI now needs to establish its reputation in this area.

In this project, TWI will generate significant internal knowledge and data to share with Industrial members. This ground work is required prior to TWI taking a lead in this topic.

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