Efficient repair of aircraft components is critical to the mission of the Department of Defense (DoD). Tradition powder based methods require expensive equipment that requires a large amount of energy to operate. They use expensive powders and the deposition efficiency may be as low at 15%. The powder that does not deposit has to be collected and treated as an environmental hazard. In addition, the powder manufacturing process if very inefficient with useful material utilization as low at 30% of the starting feedstock. Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) uses wire that is much less expensive than powder. The wire manufacturing process has a much higher material utilization that the powder production process. The use of WAAM offers significant energy and cost savings compared to powder based processes. The repair of worn components also offers large energy and cost savings compared to the fabrication of new components. The main technical objective of this project is to develop a fundamental understanding of the effects of processing on the material properties of materials deposited by the WAAM process through accurate modeling of the solidification and thermal process and through production and characterization of WAAM materials.
This work will advance the state-of-the-art for WAAM alloys by providing a better understanding of the microstructural evolution of aluminum alloys used in aircraft components. Significant energy, material, time and cost savings can be realized by implementing the WAAM process. The total cost savings of this approach is estimated to be at least $15 million dollars per year based upon the manufacturing data from the DoD. This approach will form the foundation for additional development need to repair of a wide range of components. This program will result in a fundamental understanding of the microstructural evolution resulting from the WAAM process specific to repair of aircraft components determined by a physics-based modeling substantiated by experimental data.