The Additive Manufacturing technology is one of the agents responsible for the 4th industrial revolution for at least three reasons. First, it offers the possibility to produce complex parts without the design constraints of traditional manufacturing routes. Second, scrap rates for AM parts are usually below 5%, compared to scrap rates of more than 90% with many complex milled parts. Third, the high geometrical complexity design that can be achieved exploiting functional integration and topological optimization leads to lightweight and more performant structures.
Consequently, the current production paradigm is changing in terms of two key future visions: sustainability and cost minimization. In this prospective, the purpose of this project is to investigate the potentialities of the groundbreaking AM technique, defining the conditions and the fields it dominates the conventional processes. Furthermore, an aerospace component is re-designed for AM production and its manufacturing process is studied in details exploring difficulties and advantages.
First of all, we tried to answer the one-billion question “should we go with Additive Manufacturing or keep producing with Conventional Manufacturing?”. We created a cost breakeven model able to provide a preliminary idea regarding the technology to adopt, knowing the buy-to-fly ratio and the materials cost. However, the model we propose only assesses manufacturing costs. By performing a streamlined Life Cycle Assessment, we came up with the conclusion that in the aerospace field the product use phase has greater impacts on costs and environment than the product-manufacturing phase itself. Therefore, even when Conventional Manufacturing (CM) seems to be more convenient, there is still the chance that an additively manufactured product may hold competitive advantages and can be sold at a higher price, thus legitimizing the use of an apparently more expensive technology.
We experienced this weight lightening in the component that was the object of our studies: with an iterative process of topological optimization, computer aided re-design and finite elements analysis, we could reach 16% weight reduction with a slight increase in the structure safety factor. In addition, the manufacturing process itself was examined and re-shaped for AM production and this gave us the possibility to deeply understand the correct parameters and the material limitations. Eventually, we had the opportunity to prototype the component to see the results of our job.
Principal academic Tutor
Luca Settineri, Department of Management and Production Engineering, Politecnico di Torino
Bianca Maria Colosimo, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Politecnico di Milano
Luca Iuliano, Department of Management and Production Engineering, Politecnico di Torino
Paolo Priarone, Department of Management and Production Engineering, Politecnico di Torino
APR S.r.l., Pinerolo (To)
Leonardo Napoli, Innovation Engineer, APR S.r.l.
Francesco Beccarisi, Mechanical Engineering, Politecnico di Torino
Pasqualino Bianconi, Industrial Production Engineering, Politecnico di Torino
Mattia Cenedese, Mechanical Engineering, Politecnico di Milano
Ruggero Colombari [Team Controller and Communication Coordinator], Industrial Production Engineering, Politecnico di Torino
Mattia Durantini, Automation Engineering, Politecnico di Milano
Amalia Foglia, Mechanical Engineering, Politecnico di Milano
Emanuele Grossi, Mechanical Engineering, Politecnico di Torino
Antonio Russo, Mechanical Engineering, Politecnico di Torino