Developing a New Method for Single Crystal Fabrication Using Wire-Arc Additive Manufacturing Grant uri icon



  • Today’s high power and high efficiency jet engines are possible because of the mechanical properties of turbine blades made from advanced nickel-based superalloys. A single-crystal microstructure is necessary for these blades to withstand the high operating forces and temperatures created by fuel combustion. The method of shaping turbine blades by casting followed by material removal also constrains the geometry of the blade, limiting performance of the engine. Currently, single-crystal structures are difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to manufacture, which limits their use to high-value markets. The PI proposes to develop a method to manufacture single crystal components by combining the concepts of additive manufacturing (AM) and directional solidification. To do this, components will be created layer by layer upon a seed crystal base using an AM system custom-built at the UI. The system is capable of heating feedstock material to the liquid phase then depositing it on the base at positions controlled by a computer. The work will be the first to attempt this approach and will prove feasibility and determine basic process control values required to achieve the desired material structure. Identifying a new method for fabricating single crystal components could reduce the cost enough to enable their use in many new markets. The work also has significant potential to generate intellectual property. Results from this work will be used to target funding opportunities from the National Science Foundation Manufacturing Machines and Equipment Program, Air Force Research Laboratory, and industrial stakeholders.