- Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing and Amaero
- Additive manufacturing (3D printing)
- Powder bed 3D printing
- Blown powder printing
- The people
- Previous success stories
- Melbourne’s 3D jet engine technology flies into production in France (press release from Nov. 2016)
- The world’s first printed jet engine (press release from Feb. 2015)
- Visual materials
The Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing (MCAM) was initiated by Professor Xinhua Wu. MCAM takes fundamental research from a broad range of disciplines and applies them to manufacturing challenges. These disciplines include material science, alloy design and processing, surface engineering, corrosion and hybrid materials.
Amaero Engineering Pty Ltd was developed by MCAM as a spin-off company in March 2013, functioning as the commercial arm. Amaero manufactures components for a range of global companies and SME’s in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Through its power partnership with MCAM, Amaero offers great depth of technical knowledge and broad capability and has experience in dealing with sensitive projects including ITAR and classified defence projects.
Last year, Amaero printed production components that are now flying in passenger jets and small turbojet engines. Their technology is also now operating in a manufacturing facility in Toulouse with their partner Safran – the French-based global aerospace and defence company.
The Centre uses two methods of additive manufacturing: powder-bed selective laser sintering (commonly referred to as 3D printing) and blown-powder laser-melting. They work from computer-aided design (CAD) files, using the printing machines to go directly to a product.
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3D printing has been used since the 1980s by the aerospace industry, usually to produce prototypes. With more complex, expensive printing machines being built in recent years (such as those with lasers to melt metal powders— used by MCAM), more opportunities for different materials and therefore different applications are opening up. Printing in metals has its challenges, including the high temperatures required and safety issues that accompany them.
A SmarTech report (http://smartechpublishing.com/blog/white-paper-additive-manufacturing-in-aerospace-strategic-implications) suggested the main benefits to the aerospace industry are: reduction in lead time (the time between the beginning and completion of a project/process); reducing the weight of parts; reducing operational and production costs; and reducing impact on the environment from production processes—though the actualities may not meet some expectations.
Some designs that might require multiple parts to be created and then fused are able to be printed in one piece, and designs easily tweaked. Materials waste can reportedly be reduced by as much as 90 per cent—which means a significant saving when using expensive materials such as titanium. There is also the benefit of being able to print parts on an as-needed basis rather than stockpiling replacements, and cutting the need for moulds and tools.
3D printing allows precise construction of complex shapes and parts, prototypes, and unique tools, all with minimal material waste. Monash welcomes discussion with Australian businesses (small and large) about opportunities for collaboration in other areas— such as biomedicine, which presents big opportunities for printing technology. MCAM are already in discussions to pursue projects in this area.
The Centre has two EOS INT 280M powder bed SLM machines and two Concept Laser XLine printers. The most recent XLine printer is a 2000R model, the world’s largest metal melting machine (160 l build volume) for the toolless manufacture of large functional components and technical prototypes.
The powder bed method involves metal powder spread in a very thin layer (50 microns, in the ball-park of the width of a human hair) across a base plate, where a laser fuses the metal in an outline determined by the computer-aided design (CAD). The baseplate then drops by 50 microns and the process is repeated to build up the structure— adding, rather than removing components as in some other manufacturing. There is a small amount of spatter (powder that is melted but hasn’t attached properly onto the product). This is caught & sieved to be recycled, so there is a very small amount of wastage.
Powder bed 3D printing enables to print complex shapes, such as honeycombed internal structures which reduce weight and cost. It also produces components with unprecedented accuracy and repeatability.
The Centre also has a Trumpf 7040 Laser Cell Blown Powder facility that can house parts up to 4000 x 1500 x 750mm.
This second method is more flexible in terms of the possibilities for shapes, and its potential to add to or repair existing structures such as damaged turbine blades. The metal powder is melted when blown into the laser, being deposited beneath while the mounted laser head moves around in a spiral.
They can produce parts with short lead times (in weeks rather than months) using:
- nickel-based alloy (Hastelloy X) for high temperature applications, such as the hot parts of gas turbine engines, heat exchangers, combined cycle power plants
- high alloy stainless steel for high strength, highly corrosion-resistant applications in oil and gas and chemical processing plants
- 18% Ni Maraging 300 harden-able steel for injection moulding tooling and very high strength airframe parts
and on longer time-frames:
- lightweight, high strength aluminium and titanium alloys for aerospace structures and marine uses; medical devices and prosthetics.
Professor Xinhua Wu is the Director of the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing (MCAM) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Design in Light Metals. Her history includes collaboration with Rolls-Royce, the European Space Agency, Airbus and Bombardier.
Xinhua moved from the UK to head ARC Centre of Excellence for Design in Light Metals (comprising 100 researchers from six universities), and also initiated the Monash Centre for Advanced Manufacturing (MCAM).
According to Monash Magazine, she is so influential that European companies including Safran, the European Space Agency and Airbus followed her.
Xinhua’s research interest is in the development of aerospace materials, in particular Ti alloys, and their manufacturing processes.
Her key activities include: developing new alloys for specific applications; modifying existing alloys or processing conditions to maximise their performance, characterising microstructure and mechanical properties of Ti alloys in a range of sizes and developing new manufacturing processes to reduce manufacturing costs, whilst meeting mechanical property requirements for individual service conditions.
- Professor, Materials Engineering & Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Design in Light Metals and Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing
- 1995 PhD University of Birmingham, 1986 MSc Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1983 BSc South-Central University China
Barrie Finnin is the Chief Executive Officer of Amaero Engineering Pty Ltd since April 2016. Amaero operates as the commercial arm of the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing (MCAM) where he served as a Platform Manager and Senior Research Officer for a couple of years.
Prior to joining MCAM, Barrie spent many years as a Theme Leader at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) where he led research activities in Manufacturing Technologies for Transport and Mining. Barrie has more than 20 years of experience in the manufacturing industry in addition to more than 12 years in the research sector and has been involved in eight start-ups including the formation of six new entities. Combined, Barrie has more than 30 years of experience in translation of research into commercial manufacturing.
Melbourne-based Amaero Engineering—a spin out company from Monash University’s innovation cluster—has signed an agreement with the University and Safran Power Units to print turbojet components for Safran, the French-based global aerospace and defence company.
“Our new facility will be embedded within the Safran Power Units factory in Toulouse and will make components for Safran’s auxiliary power units and turbojet engines,” said Mr Barrie Finnin, CEO of Monash spin-out company Amaero.
Monash University’s Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure) Professor Ian Smith said that the Amaero-Safran agreement is an excellent example of the University’s exceptional research having commercial impact on a global scale.
“I am delighted that Monash is contributing to global innovation and attracting business investment with our world-class research. The Amaero-Safran collaboration is a fabulous example of how universities and industry can link together to translate research into real commercial outcomes,” Professor Smith said.
“The new venture is part of Monash University’s large-scale investment in innovation on our Clayton campus, which brings together a dynamic cluster of research, research infrastructure and industry partners. Collectively we and our industry collaborators are driving technological change and advancing manufacturing – delivering real social and economic impact.”
The world’s first 3D printed jet engine was revealed to the world at the 2015 Melbourne International Airshow. As part of a project supported by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) Safran, Monash University and Amaero, in collaboration with Deakin University and the CSIRO, took a Safran gas turbine power unit from a Falcon executive jet, scanned it and created two copies using their customised 3D metal printers. This research is now being extended further through the support of Australian Research Council’s (ARC) strategic initiative “Industry Transformation Research Hub” and several industrial partners including Safran and Amaero.
“We proved that our team were world-leaders,” said Professor Xinhua Wu, Director of the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing.
“I’m delighted to see our technology leap from the laboratory to a factory at the heart of Europe’s aerospace industry in Toulouse,” Professor Wu said.
Amaero will establish a new manufacturing facility on the Safran Power Units site in Toulouse using a 3D printing technology known as Selective Laser Melting. They will not only bring the know-how and intellectual property they’ve developed in partnership with Monash University, they will also relocate two of the large printers they have customised for this precise manufacturing task.
Safran Power Units will test and validate the components the team makes, and then the factory will enter serial production, producing components that Safran Power Units will post process, machine and assemble into auxiliary power units and turbojet engines for commercial and defence use. The project team expect that production will commence in the first quarter of 2017.
The collaborative agreement is between Safran Power Units, Amaero and Monash University.
“Over the past five years, Safran Power Units and Monash University have successfully worked on a demonstration phase. Innovations generated by research and joint collaboration lead us to a new milestone: introducing 3D printing into production stage for major engine parts. We are committed to add tangible value to our products for the benefit of our customers. The stakes are high: weight reduction, huge production cycles shortening and designs innovation. Safran Group advances and our partner leading-edge expertise allow us to stay ahead and to supply the most sophisticated components. This is not just a matter of 3D printing, the 3P rule applies: setting the right parameter for the right part and the right expected performance,” declared François Tarel, CEO of Safran Power Units.
The development and commercialisation of this advanced 3D metal printing technology has been supported by Monash University; Safran; and the Australian Government through the Entrepreneur’s Programme; the ARC; and other agencies. CSIRO and Deakin University are also participants in the original engine printing project supported by SIEF which continues to provide valuable data and software tools.
Find out more: www.scienceinpublic.com.au/media-releases/parislaunch
Monash University researchers along with collaborators from CSIRO and Deakin University have printed a jet engine. In fact Monash and their spin-out company Amaero, have printed two engines. One is on display this week at the International Air Show in Avalon, while the second is displayed in Toulouse at the French aerospace company Microturbo (Safran).
The engines are a proof of concept that’s led to tier one aerospace companies lining up to develop new components at the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing in Melbourne, Australia. And the project has created advanced manufacturing opportunities for Australian businesses large and small.
Microturbo (Safran) provided an older – though still in service – gas turbine engine. It’s an auxiliary power unit used in aircraft such as the Falcon 20 and was chosen because Microturbo (Safran) was willing for the internal workings to be displayed.
“It was our chance to prove what we could do,” says Professor Xinhua Wu, the director of the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing.
“But when we reviewed the plans we realised that the engine had evolved over years of manufacture. So we took the engine to pieces and scanned the components. Then we printed two copies.”
It was a complex project that took a year and funding from Monash University, the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF), and others.
“Xinhua and her Monash team have demonstrated their mastery of additive manufacturing in metal. The partnership with Microturbo (Safran) is a success story that was recognised last year when Safran gave the team its Prize ‘Innovation for Product and Technology’ for the excellent work carried out in partnership with Microturbo and the University of Birmingham. Monash and AMAERO are already key partners for our new developments and we are keen to have their help in developing new technologies for our future engines,” says Jean-François Rideau, head of R&T from Microturbo (Safran).
“The project is a spectacular proof of concept that’s leading to significant contracts with aerospace companies. It was a challenge for the team and pushed the technology to new heights of success— no one has printed an entire engine commercially yet,” says Ben Batagol, of Amaero Engineering, the company created by Monash University to make the technology available to Australian industry.
“Australia’s manufacturing industries need access to the latest technologies to stay competitive,” says Professor Ian Smith, Monash University’s Vice Provost for Research and Research Infrastructure.
“This Centre allows them to rapidly prototype metal devices across a wide range of industries. It’s part of a large integrated suite of facilities for research and industry at Monash,” he says.
The Centre, AMAERO and the jet engine project have been supported by the Australian government via the Australian Research Council (ARC), the CRC program, Commercialisation Australia, the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF); Monash University and Safran.
Find out more: www.scienceinpublic.com.au/media-releases/monash-avalonairshow-2015
Stills and videos of 3D printers at work are available:
http://bit.ly/2lI76fc (raw footage)