Honeywell Mexicali Benefits from 3D Printing (Electron Beam Melting) to Reduce Project Schedule

June 15, 2016 | Author: Donald Godfrey

The Phoenix Additive Manufacturing Technology Center recently used its Electron Beam Melting (EBM) Technology to produce prototypes for the Mexicali operations.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing is the process of creating 3D objects or products, layer by layer, from a 3D digital model. The 3D digital model is usually created from a CAD file.

Compared to conventional manufacturing processes, the EBM process is capable of fabricating low-volume, high-value articles at reduced lead times. The technology was invented in 1993 in Sweden at the University of Technology in Gothenburg.

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Figure 1: Cutaway of EBM Machine

The parts were produced with Alloy 718 material. Alloy 718 is a solution annealed and precipitation hardened material designed for high temperature applications. Alloy 718 is hardened by the precipitation of secondary phases (e.g. gamma prime and gamma double-prime) into the metal matrix. This alloy is the workhorse of nickel superalloys and it is widely used for gas turbine components.

Alloy 718 is a solution annealed and precipitation hardened material designed for high temperature applications.

Alloy 718 is hardened by the precipitation of secondary phases (e.g. gamma prime and gamma double-prime) into the metal matrix. This alloy is the workhorse of nickel superalloys and it is widely used for gas turbine components and cryogenic storage tanks, jet engines, pump bodies and parts, rocket motors and thrust reversers, nuclear fuel element spacers, hot extrusion tooling and other applications requiring oxidation and corrosion resistance as well as strength at elevated temperatures.

Unlike 3D printing with lasers, that only fuses the geometry of the part; the EBM technology does the same but also hardens all the powder in the build chamber and the result is the creation of what is referred to as a “cake”.

A laser system rarely has a build chamber temperature that exceeds 300F. Likewise, the temperature inside the EBM machine rarely is less than 1,900F and that is another reason a “cake” of powder is produced.

This cake is the semi-hardened powder with the parts buried inside of it. The cake is placed inside the Powder Recovery Unit where the parts are recovered via a process similar to sand blasting.

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Photo 2: Photo of Cake of Powder where parts are inside

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Photo 3: Parts shown with “cake” removed

Honeywell is learning to excel at using its global additive manufacturing resources to meet the needs of its production and engineering resources. Additive Manifesting is helping Honeywell to shorting supply chain lead times and reduce program costs.

Donald Godfrey

Donald Godfrey

Donald Godfrey is an engineering fellow at Honeywell Aerospace.

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