New civil aircraft platforms such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 XWB present new manufacturing challenges, including demands for higher productivity in the machining of high-strength titanium alloys. One way to increase productivity is to remove metal faster by optimising machining parameters.
This is an important focus for my industrial sponsor, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty.
I'm working with the beta metastable titanium alloy Ti-5Al-5Mo-5V-3Cr, recently adopted for use in safety-critical components of landing gear for next-generation civil aircraft. This alloy has a lot of beneficial material properties, but these can result in poor machinability.
My project aims to define, understand and overcome the limitations of current machining processes with this alloy, and deliver solutions for direct implementation into production. My work will prepare Messier-Bugatti-Dowty for the higher machining rates it will require to meet demand, while improving component integrity and maintaining fatigue performance.
This work has involved the production of small scale machining tests to study surface integrity, subsurface microstructure and most recently a novel 4 point bend fatigue test to study the influence of machining induced deformation.
The research has focussed on the application of a variety of mechanical engineering and materials science techniques such as 5 axis finish machining, CADCAM, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), MATLAB, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD).