Demonstrator and tooling design
A Near Net Shape (NNS) concept design for the TiFab demonstrator was produced in order to establish its suitability for manufacture using the Linear Friction Welding (LFW) process. Several adjustments were made and these comprised adjustments to plate thicknesses, base plate dimensions and revised water jet cutting layouts.
Once the demonstrator Near Net Shape design was finalized, several sets of tooling were designed and produced to support the demonstrator manufacture. Two Linear Friction Welding machines were used: the existing E130 LFW machine and the newly-built and re-commissioned middle range machine, LR50.
The strategy behind this approach by the TiFab consortium was to demonstrate not only the project's ability to produce cost effective tailored blanks for structural aircraft parts, but also the versatility and capability of the Linear Friction Welding process across the widest spectrum of equipment available. Thus the TiFab project ensured the collection and evaluation of results from three different LFW machines.
From a TiFab perspective, the work completed on the development of the tooling for the demonstrator has resulted in an efficient, economic and production capable solution for not just the demonstrator, but for a significant number of components (34 out of 150 (23%) of all components evaluated during the programme) and 100% of the parts identified during the down selection process. Therefore, the work completed gives clarity and emphasis to the importance of cost- effective tooling for the LFW process. Not just for the TiFab programme, but for the whole concept of tailored blank production using the Linear Friction Welding process.