On the eve of Le Bourget Paris Air Show, Prodways Group, a subsidiary of Groupe Gorgé, presents its new RAF Technology (Rapid Additive Forging) for the 3D metal printing of large titanium parts.
Large metal parts for critical applications, in particular titanium parts for the aeronautical sector, are often built using combinations of forging and machining techniques. Certain titanium parts have manufacturing lead times of more than 12 months.
With Prodways Group’s Rapid Additive Forging technology the 3D printer uses a robot equipped with a head that deposits molten metal in an atmosphere of inert gas. The metal is deposited layer-by-layer and the large part is completed within a few hours.
This innovative technology quickly manufactures titanium blanks with very similar geometry compared with the final part. These blanks are then finish-machined, thus avoiding considerable losses of material which can represent up to 95% of the metal block with traditional machining processes.
The RAF Technology was developed in collaboration with Commercy Robotique, a subsidiary of Groupe Gorgé specialized in robotized welding for more than 40 years. A patent application was filed by Prodways Group.
This process has been tested on various metals. In particular, it is used to print titanium, a metal seeing increased use in new-generation aircraft. The third generation of the prototype is able to produce parts of more than 70 centimetres in size. Prodways Group is currently developing a version that would print parts of up to 2 m in the main dimension.
The Rapid Additive Forging technology uses a distinctive metal deposition technology focusing on the metallurgical quality and the repeatability of the process. The first metallurgical tests conducted on different parts revealed an absence of porosity and greater mechanical resistance compared with usual 3D metal printing techniques using laser or electron beam sintering.