Farsoon Technologies, a Chinese manufacturer of SLM and SLS 3D printers, has announced the development of a new high-temperature titanium material from its customer, Aerospace Hiwing Titanium Industrial Co. (AHTi).

Specializing in titanium material research and development, AHTi has produced TA32, a high-temperature titanium powder designed with Farsoon’s FS271M 3D printing system. Designed as an alternative material to steel or nickel-based superalloy components, TA32 has been engineered to withstand operating temperatures of up to 550 degrees celsius.

Farsoon FS271M metal laser sintering system. Image via Farsoon Technologies.
Farsoon FS271M metal laser sintering system. Image via Farsoon Technologies.

AHTi and Farsoon’s partnership

Last year, Farsoon entered into several strategic partnerships in a bid to extend the reach of its polymer and metal additive technologies. In February, the company signed a polymer additive manufacturing materials development agreement with Airbus, while in August the firm also launched H13 tool steel for SLM in collaboration with American tooling production company Next Chapter Manufacturing.

AHTi established its partnership with Farsoon in 2018 after investing in the company’s metal laser sintering systems for the material engineering, process development, and rapid prototyping of TA32.

Mechanical properties of tested TA32 sintered parts. Image via AHTi.
Mechanical properties of tested TA32 sintered parts. Image via AHTi.

Properties of TA32

AHTI’s TA32 alloy is composed of titanium, aluminum, zirconium, tin, molybdenum, niobium, and silicon. Equipped with comprehensive mechanical properties, the material can tolerate operating temperatures of up to 550 degrees celsius and short-term tolerance up to 600 degrees.

AHTI used an advanced cold crucible vacuum induction melting and air atomization technology (VIGA-CC) to produce the TA32 powder. After testing, the material showcased high purity, sphericity, fluidity, and bulk density properties, and was deemed well-suited for metal 3D printing. After carrying out further mechanical property tests, AHTi concluded TA32 showed excellent tensile strength, flexibility, and plasticity under high temperatures.

The company used Farsoon’s FS271M system to accelerate the material processing development cycle, and was able to fabricate customized TA32 processing parameters through Farsoon’s advanced “parameter-editor” software. AHTI’s engineers carried out numerous sintering tests by controlling the laser energy density of the FS271M system, in order to determine the most appropriate processing parameters for the material. Metallographic analysis of the TA32 sintered parts showed a fine crystal grain structure devoid of cracks, holes, or other defects.

Metallographic analysis of TA32 sintered parts. Image via AHTi.
Metallographic analysis of TA32 sintered parts. Image via AHTi.

3D printing titanium for aerospace

Farsoon has observed an increase in the demand for high-temperature titanium alloys within China’s civil aerospace industry, which are being used more and more in parts such as engine compressor discs, blades, rotors, housings, and intake pipes. According to the firm, engineering the weight ratio, complex structures, operation temperature, and speed of development of titanium parts is continually challenging conventional manufacturing processes, and makes additive manufacturing an interesting option for manufacturers in this area.

American aerostructure manufacturer Spirit AeroSystems installed a 3D printed titanium structural component from Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) developer Norsk Titanium, in the forward fuselage of a Boeing 787 last year. A few months later, Norsk successfully characterized its RPD process as part of the Boeing Material Allowables Program, meaning some structural titanium parts will be suitable for long -term production using its 3D printing technology.

Elsewhere, Hill Air Force Base successfully installed a 3D printed titanium part for the  U.S. Air Force‘s F-22 fighter jet, manufactured by aerospace and defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

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Featured image shows Farsoon FS271M metal laser sintering system. Image via Farsoon Technologies.