As part of a collaborative project at Liebherr-Aerospace Toulouse SAS, Linde has been able to optimise the benefits of AM – additive manufacturing – for aluminium aircraft components. The industrial gases and engineering company provides the AM industry with its ADDvance® O2 precision solution gas analysis technology, a technology that ensuresmetal powder integrity for additive manufacturing.

Liebherr-Aerospace Toulouse SAS has recently decided to add AM technology to its manufacturing processes. The company develops, manufactures and maintains innovative air systems for the aviation industry. It has recently installed its first AM metal printer at its manufacturing centre at Campas in France and realized during the first trials that oxygen levels fluctuated during the printing process. As a result, they obtained a poor quality of printed parts made from aluminium alloys.

With Linde’s technology, they have been able to control the gas atmosphere. As a reminder, Pierre Forêt, Head of AM Unit at Linde, explained in an interview that, “the storage solution functions with a moisture control and monitoring feature that enables to continuously measure humidity levels. It releases a great amount of purge gas flow as soon as the doors are closed to rapidly remove moisture in the air. It then applies a lower stream of gas to ensure a consistently low level of humidity.  So, there is no quality loss. »

After the atmosphere in the AM printer chamber is purged, impurities can remain present due to incomplete purging, via access through loose connections or within the metal powder itself. Even extremely small variations in oxygen content can impair the mechanical or chemical properties of alloys sensitive to oxygen like titanium or aluminium and can affect the composition of the end product, resulting in negative physical characteristics such as discolouration and even poor fatigue resistance.

We know that gas purity during fusion has a direct impact on the mechanical and metallurgical properties we can expect to achieve – especially with aluminium alloys. So, we needed a dedicated solution to help us improve atmosphere control in the printer,” said Frédéric Letrange, AM Project Leader, Liebherr-Aerospace Toulouse. “Having looked at the various oxygen measurement and control systems available on the market, it quickly became clear to us that ADDvance O2 precision was the most mature so it was a natural step for us to expand our partnership with Linde into the additive manufacturing space.”

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