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ADDITIVE MANUFACTURINGSECTION TITLE


resulting in the formation of nickel ions. T e ions then deposit onto the mandrel, which acts as a cathode, as nickel metal. When the desired thickness of the part is achieved, the mandrel is removed from the solution and the part detached. T e part is subsequently removed from the mandrel as a completed structural unit. Once removed, the product is immediately stress free, negating the need for stress relief treatment, such as heat-treating, of the component. Because the fi nished parts match the contour of the mandrel, the features are very precise. T erefore, the outer mould line of the lip skin can provide tight tolerances, providing an aerodynamic surface that reduces drag, creating a laminar fl ow surface that reduces drag and improves aerodynamic performance on the aircraft nacelle. It also eliminates the need for post- fabrication machining of the contour. T e parts can then be trimmed to length and other features added, including drilling of holes for attachment to the outer barrel of the engine nacelle. Another feature of of the process allows for the part to be produced with either a matte or mirror fi nish, if desired, eliminating the need for burnishing and polishing. Because the parts are produced stress-


free, the option exists to produce the parts in a full circumference, single piece that can be machined into segments without incurring deformation or spring back, or electroformed in sections if needed.


BEYOND AEROSPACE? The future of electroforming is looking bright. Beyond lip skins, the Doncasters R&D team is already working on electroforming for helicopter lens surrounds and hard coating on glass-forming tools, engine spinners and leading edges on outer and inner guide vanes for turbofan


engines. T e team has also identifi ed a variety of sectors that electroforming has the opportunity to be involved with. T ese include: • Automotive: lightweight casings for transmission and electric motors


• Renewables: metallic leading-edge solutions on wind turbine blades


• Niche vehicles: sports exhaust parts or metallic trims


• Aerospace industry: leading edges on turboprop blades, fairings, cowls, HIP canisters, etc


Ongoing R&D activities are in place to improve effi ciencies within the process, off ering the customer a more cost-eff ective solution. T e process can inherently deliver rapid prototypes, allowing for concept development to produce trial parts for Doncasters’ customers.


Although not a brand new concept, the team believes that electroforming still has much more opportunity in the aerospace industry and that the only limitation is people’s imagination! Depending on the size, and part feature complexity of the part, the growth time for a simple leading edge would take approximately eight to 10 hours, while a large lip skin might be over 100 hours growth time. Doncasters has an ongoing programme to reduce tank times, which will promote further cost benefi ts and become more cost-competitive with other processes.


Andrew Woods is with Doncasters. www.doncasters.com


The Doncasters R&D team has identifi ed major benefi ts of switching to the electroforming process


www.pemnet.com


To install, simply: 1. Punch Hole 2. Insert Fastener 3. Press Into Place


Reliable, flexible and cost effective thin sheet attachment solutions from genuine PEM® brand fasteners. PEM is a registered trademark of PennEngineering - PEM111 www.engineerlive.com 13


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