The joint project "REFORM" developed resource-efficient forming technologies for structural components made of titanium and high-temperature alloys based on nickel and cobalt, which are also suitable for application in small and medium batches.
Titanium and high-temperature nickel and cobalt alloys are used in areas subject to high thermal and mechanical stresses, for example in the combustion chambers of automobile engines. Components made from these materials are used in gas turbines in aerospace engineering, and in medical engineering implants. Titanium is also an excellent lightweight construction material. Other fields of application are the chemical industry and offshore and energy technologies. Consumption is on the increase, especially in aviation and energy technologies.
When producing small and medium batches, forming is dominated by machine cutting methods that are associated with high material losses. Forming methods for a small number of units were uneconomical so far, because of their high tool costs. In solid forming, the tool typically depicts a negative mould of the structural component. A tool can only produce one unique component geometry. The newly developed forming technology is based on the process engineering methods of longitudinal and transverse rolling and allows the use of flexible, simple and less expensive tools. Product ranges previously produced by machine-cutting can now also be economically manufactured using forming technologies. Using these technologies means that significantly less input material is required and less energy consumed; in addition, the CO2 emissions are reduced.
Substituting waste-intensive cutting methods by forming technologies can save substantial amounts of materials and energy: In an application example, shortening the process chain for manufacturing the blades for aircraft engines resulted in materials’ savings of 17 percent, energy savings of 28 percent and a CO2 emission reduction of about 12,000 tonnes per year. In another application, the new forming technology process chain for manufacturing valve seat inserts achieves material savings of 52 percent, energy savings of 55 percent and a CO2 reduction of roughly 1,800 tonnes per year. As a side effect, components with improved characteristics can be produced using the more resource-efficient manufacturing process. In the long term, the resource-efficient forming technologies can also be utilized in other industries, for example the steel and metalworking industry.