Digital twins for high-value components

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Abstract

Aerospace alloys such as those based on titanium and nickel are produced from their metallic ores through energy intensive reduction and alloying processes. They are then converted to state-of-the-art high-value engineering components by subjecting the material to energy intensive, complex, non-linear, thermo-mechanical processing (forging), which results in heterogeneous microstructure, non-uniform mechanical properties, part distortion and residual stress.

This necessitates significantly larger dimensions than the final geometry to be manufactured, with over 70% of the material then machined away to achieve the final required shape and retain the optimum microstructure and property set necessary for in-service performance.

This expensive and wasteful approach has led to a sector-wide effort to produce components with more homogeneous microstructures and property distributions from less material, with emerging powder-derived manufacturing routes having been explored extensively over recent years.

Emerging manufacturing techniques, such as precision investment casting and additive manufacturing, have advantages over forging in terms of material and energy usage and speed of manufacture, but they cannot produce the high integrity properties required for many structure-critical applications. For now, forging is here to stay, but it needs to have a modern makeover to make it more agile, economical and less wasteful with better performing products.

Keywords

  • aerospace alloys
  • materials
  • digital twins
  • forging
  • manufacturing

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