7 December, 2023
In the dynamic realm of technological innovation, BMT Aerospace takes center stage as the developer of impellers for a new type of compressor. What makes this development extraordinary is that it made use of additive manufacturing. This technology is rapidly developing and slowly but surely offers more opportunities in more and more industries.
Additive manufacturing played a central part in the development of the impellers, as this technology was key in manufacturing the meticulously optimized thin impeller blades. These are specifically crafted to meet stringent pressure and flow requirements. Additionally, the use of Titanium addresses the corrosion resistance needed for the gas flowing through the system.
More specifically, the Electron Beam Powder Bed Melting technology was chosen to print these parts. This for multiple reasons, such as cost-effectiveness, precision in shape, no internal stresses and the general quality & strength of the resulting material.
It’s no secret that the journey to perfection is not without challenges. Post-printing, the impellers require a series of post-processing steps to refine the surface roughness. With years of accumulated knowledge, the BMT Aerospace team is able to fine-tune these crucial components to perform at best capacity.
While a portion of the post-printing operations is outsourced because the production volume is not yet high enough, a part takes place at BMT Aerospace. Operations directly related to the printing process initiate the production journey in-house, heat treatment and 2 surface finishing steps are outsourced and parts come back in-house for final machining operations, dimensional quality checks, and certification toward the end of the process.
Simultaneously, alongside the impellers, other work orders are in progress that include witness samples to proof the quality of additive manufacturing. These orders involve tensile test bars showcasing the material characteristics of the printed components. This data, combined with information from previous print builds, contributes to the ongoing effort to substantiate printing quality for aerospace applications.
Throughout the production of these components, BMT Aerospace adheres to a DNV-certified process. The future of these impellers, crafted by BMT Aerospace, hinges on the success of the tests JCI will conduct with the compressor. Should the tests prove successful, a new market could open up, marking a revolutionary era in compressor technology, as envisioned by the optimistic client.