Last year, scientists from the University of Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory (NDTL), Norsk Titanium (Norsk), Pratt & Whitney and TURBOCAM International successfully achieved on initial testing of an additively manufactured integrally bladed rotor (IBR). Today marks a milestone for the group of scientists who can move on to the second phase of testing.

The second phase of testing

The next step will examine the dynamic properties of the IBR. Manufactured using Norsk’s revolutionary Rapid Plasma Deposition™ (RPD™) process, the IBR was inspected to the same quality specifications used in Pratt & Whitney’s current turbomachinery components.

The tests are being conducted at NDTL’s turbomachinery test facility in South Bend, Indiana. After completion of the initial testing, where the IBR met 100% of all design, speed and pressure ratio test points, the current test program looks at low and high cycle fatigue characteristics of the IBR. Testing will include multiple acceleration/deceleration cycles and investigate synchronous vibration effects on the additively manufactured blades.

The testing was preceded by a manufacturing qualities evaluation performed by TURBOCAM. The evaluation found no evidence of alpha case, or residual stress concentrations, that would cause distortions typically found in additive materials. Additionally, TURBOCAM confirmed Norsk’s RPD™ material was well-suited to traditional milling operations, and was as stable as Ti6-4 forgings.

The ultimate goal of this effort is to develop the manufacturing specifications needed to deliver the complex, heavily-loaded components for turbomachinery applications, while providing the cost and schedule savings that have been proven on Ti 6-4 airframe components.

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