To improve aircraft resource-efficiency and to decrease fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, innovative solutions with superior mechanical properties for advanced structures are in development. Ti6Al4V alloys, due to a high strength-to-weight ratio compared to steel or aluminium can keep the structural weight and size ratio low. However, lightweight construction with this alloy is currently only possible with conventional techniques such as CNC machining, with casting thats lead to a high proportion of raw material wasted. This is not cost-efficient and results in a high ecological footprint.
A primary alternative for fabrication of advanced functional lightweight metallic parts is additive manufacturing (AM), offering benefits in terms of weight, design and functionality, lead time and cost/manufacturability and allowing for alternative geometric shapes. Thereby decreasing the weight of the component without sacrificing component strength and safety. However, AM has not yet been approved for structural components with high safety requirements to date, as there are still technology gaps that include: material property control, correlation between process and structural properties, effect of defects, quality control. Material and mechanical properties of AM parts differ substantially from the properties of the same parts produced by conventional casting. Therefore, a damage tolerance assessment needs to be performed for AM parts in commercial aircraft applications to meet functional and safety requirements.
The main objective of the 3TANIUM is the establishment of Non Destructive Testing (NDT) methods that are able to provide the secure detection of process related critical flaws and defects, and to understand their effects on material and mechanical properties in Ti6Al4V AM parts. 3TANIUM will quantitatively assess the applicability of NDT methods applied on appropriately and innovatively post-treated (heat- and surface-treated) AM parts in order to realise benefits offered by AM in the aeronautical industry.