To meet the increasing forging demands of the aerospace turbine engine industry, a highly integrated, state-of-the-art isothermal (ISO) forging cell has been developed. The cell has the capacity to meet 100% of the current and projected industry need for superalloy, isothermally forged turbine engine components.
Equipment within the isothermal forging cell includes an 8000-ton clearing press, a 1204°C heat treatment furnace, and customized, computer-controlled ultrasonic inspection equipment. The cell can completely produce and process (forge, machine, heat treat, and inspect) isothermally forged engine components within one facility.
Advantages of ISO
The aircraft industry is increasing its use of nickel-based powder alloys. These alloys allow for the manufacture of higher-performing aircraft components that can withstand higher temperatures and greater stress than those manufactured from more traditional wrought alloys. Powder alloys must be extruded or consolidated into a billet, which is then forged and machined to its final net shape.
In addition to these qualitative advantages of utilizing powder alloys, isothermal forging offers a number of performance and production capacity advantages. Isothermal forging is a process in which the billet and the forging dies are heated to the same temperatures. This allows for a nearer-net-shape forging, thus reducing the amount of material necessary to produce the part as well as reducing machining requirements. A reduction in machining requirements reduces materials waste and improves throughput.
The use of an ISO cell has resulted in a significant increase in productivity where the average cycle time has been reduced by 30 to 40%, with machining times reduced by as much as 50%. Forging press setup time has been reduced by up to 50% and downtime is less than 5%. All total, these enhancements to productivity have resulted in significant unit cost reductions.