The research and innovation strategy "Flightpath 2050" of the EU Commission and the aerospace industry calls for greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Due to its low density and very good thermal and mechanical properties, titanium aluminide (TiAl) has been identified as a key material to make engines significantly lighter and thus achieve these ambitious goals. However, the material is difficult to process due to its physical properties. The production of turbine blades made of TiAl is currently associated with a large machining allowance and thus a poor buy-to-fly ratio (weight of raw material to weight of finished part). For this reason, the previous project IDEAL developed a TiAl investment casting process including an integrated finishing strategy that achieves a machining allowance of less than 1 mm. However, this manufacturing process for turbine blades has not yet been comprehensively examined in terms of cost and quality.
The aim of "NEXT" is therefore to proof economic viability for meeting the quality requirements of TiAl investment casting in conventional aircraft engine applications: On the one hand, the machining allowance has to be further reduced and the high level of properties demonstrated, while on the other hand process costs are to be optimized and the economic efficiency demonstrated.
The aim of the Fraunhofer IPT in the research project is the development and partial implementation of an Industrie 4.0 environment for the production of TiAl low-pressure turbine blades, taking into account economic efficiency. This includes the conception and partial implementation of process digitization and networking as well as the use of Industrie 4.0 methods. In this context, optimization models for error and scrap reduction are developed. In addition, product tracking within the production is implemented. In addition, a cost analysis tool is integrated into the production environment in order to achieve an automated, component-exact allocation of personnel, process, material and machine costs and times. The further utilization of the production data using Industrie 4.0 methods for cost reduction will be analyzed and detailed in a specification sheet.
German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V.)