Regulatory efforts to lower the weight of aeroplanes, which in turn will decrease air and noise pollution, are forcing companies to develop new methods and processes to improve aircraft performance. The introduction of Mg-alloys in the aerospace industry will reduce aeroplane weight, improve noise damping and reduce fuel consumption. Alloys suitable for the aerospace industry must combine a high performance in mechanical properties with corrosion resistance. At present, there is a need to develop Mg-alloys to fulfil these requirements.
- To develop up to seven new Mg-alloys, which meet the end-users' requirements regarding corrosion resistance, mechanical properties, strength, fatigue and coat ability. A maximum of three will be selected, from which prototypes and demonstrators will be developed.
- To optimise processes for sand and investment casting, gravity die-casting, high-pressure die-casting and special casting processes, enabling the production of non-structural, semi-structural and structural castings for aeroplanes, fulfilling end-user requirements.
- To develop simulation tools for the determination of local mechanical properties of magnesium castings and virtual standard tests (e.g. impact tests) of cast magnesium components.
- To prepare a design manual for cast magnesium components.
- To produce highly integrated demonstrator castings, which are approximately 30% lighter than the same components in their current design.
The expected deliverables are:
- New Mg-casting alloys, which fulfil the requirements of aviation industry regarding mechanical properties.
- Virtual tools to enable the prediction of local mechanical properties of Mg-castings allowing their efficient optimisation.
- A design manual guiding aviation designers safely when choosing Mg-components.
- Demonstrator castings, which prove the suitability of Mg-castings for aviation applications.
The work plan is split into two main phases, the Development Phase and the Application Phase.The Development Phase includes experimental work as well as casting process optimisation. Up to seven new Mg-alloys will be developed and will undergo intensive testing regarding properties like strength and fatigue as well as corrosion properties. New coatings for Mg-components will be developed, and reference castings will be selected and produced using commercial Mg-alloys. These castings will be analysed with respect to mechanical properties. In parallel, virtual tools for predicting local mechanical properties will be developed. This phase will end with the selection of the three most suitable new alloys for use in the Application Phase. In this second phase, the reference castings will be cast from the new alloys and undergo the same tests as in the first phase, which allows direct comparison of properties. Based on the test results, alloys and castings will be further optimised. Finally, the castings will undergo all the full-scale testing procedures usually carried out by aircraft manufacturers. The project's findings, as well as design rules and aviation standards, will be compiled in a design manual for aviation designers. A magnesium process and simulation database will collect all up-to-date information on magnesium casting.
New magnesium alloys with increased strength and good corrosion resistance have been developed. The alloys comprise different groups, which are suitable for sand casting, investment casting, permanent mould casting, high-pressure die-casting. Both die-casting and gravity casting alloys were developed both for thin-walled and thick-walled castings as well. Out of the six new alloys, which have been developed for high-pressure die-casting, one was selected for production of reference parts. Three new alloys have been developed for Gravity die-casting, Investment casting and Sand casting.
The main dissemination and exploitation activities within the project frame of activities were the following:
- Establishment of an Advisory Board (AB).
- Development of project website.
- Contribution to conferences and publications.
A Magnesium process and simulation database and a design manual for aircraft designers are under development. Apart from information on alloys, their mechanical, physical and corrosion properties the database and the Design Manual will also contain characteristics of casting process technologies and design principles.
The Advisory Board members participate by contributing according to their own expertise. Part of the Magnesium database will be published and made accessible through the IDEA website.
The results of the project will be measured in three phases:
- Short term measure (up to 2 years after project finalisation): Implementation of cast Mg components in IAI airplanes.
- Medium measures (2-5 years after project finalisation): This is the outcome followed by the second wave of AB member's exploitation activities. Successful outcome of this stage will be the use of cast Mg applications by other aerospace companies.
- Long term measure (5-10 years after project finalisation): Mg is an attractive and competitive material for the aviation industry.