Wednesday, June 15, 2016

News: Cti's reverse precision engineering

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Castings Technology International (Cti) has come to the aid of a multinational company after key component failures impacted production.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, Cti specialises in helping castings companies to solve problems and improve production. The organisation also supplies the high value manufacturing sector with low volume, precision steel, superalloy and titanium castings that would otherwise be difficult to source.

Cti was acquired by the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing in 2014. Since then, it has been split into two organisations; AMRC Castings, which focuses on research and development, and Cti Ltd, which carries out commercial work.

In the latest project, the company called upon Cti to assess how quickly it might be able to make replacement components after stocks of their spares ran out.

It took Cti just three weeks to reverse engineer the component from a high strength steel and manufacture the first of 72 precision engineered castings and, following extensive quality control procedures, the first batch was delivered, replenishing the plant's depleted stocks.

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Richard Gould, commercial manager at Cti (pictured), said: "We worked evenings, Saturdays and Sundays as appropriate to mitigate the client's losses. It exemplifies our ability and willingness to deliver complex castings in a fraction of the lead-time required by traditional foundries when a client hits trouble."

Specialists from Cti's laboratory and testing division used spectroanalysis to identify the material from which the component had originally been made and laser scanning technology to take measurements, which were fed into a Computer Aided Design system to create a 3D CAD model.

Cti designers used this 3D CAD model to produce drawings of an undamaged component and process modelling techniques to add a feed system, creating a pattern for a mould that would fill with molten metal at the optimum rate to make perfect castings.

Data from the CAD drawing was fed into Cti's additive manufacturing technology, which uses stereolithography to make replica patterns out of epoxy resin or moulds out of sand. The resin system incorporates a laser that traces the shape of the component in a bath of resin, becoming solid where the light strikes it, whilst the additive mould system binds sand together utilising a highly specialised chemical process.

Cti then used its patented Replicast process to manufacture two batches of the components, which involves dipping each epoxy resin replica in a tank full of a special slurry to create a ceramic shell with an excellent surface finish. In the case of sand-print the molten metal is poured directly into the mould itself.

A £7m government grant as part of the Aerospace Growth Partnership is funding a new facility, close to completion on the AMP, which will allow companies within the aerospace industry to develop the capability to melt and manufacture large scale titanium castings in the UK instead of this work being carried out abroad.

Cti website

Images: Cti

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