Rolls-Royce

Problem

Flow forming of mild steel and aluminium alloys is well established. However, there is currently limited knowledge of flow forming super steel alloys due to its superior mechanical strength and resistance to deformation and loading.

Though the AFRC has a wide range of equipment, facilities, and industrial expertise to support partners and collaborators, it had to acquire and install a flow former machine, the WF-STR-600/3, specifically for the project. 

The main challenge was to not only understand the characteristics, properties, and behaviour of the material, but to also identify the operating parameters of the machine in relation to forming super steel alloys.

What we did

The project aimed to address this gap in understanding through in-depth research and a series of small and full-scale forming trials into its material formability, achievable reduction rates, forming forces, and material characteristics, to counter potential cracking and breaking issues.

It involved close collaboration and knowledge transfer between the AFRC and Rolls-Royce’s Materials Processing Technology team and its supply chain, to demonstrate the applications of the flow forming process and the formability of the super steel alloy.

A representative small-scale part was then produced and results used to replicate a larger, demonstrator piece.

Result

This project was successful in demonstrating the possibilities for flow forming for aerospace engine applications, and producing recommendations to showcase the benefits of this process in future Rolls-Royce projects. From a technical aspect, the material properties achieved exceeded expectations. 

The final component was three times its original pre-form length. The project concluded that flow forming produces high precision cylindrical components at a fraction of the time, energy and waste generated using conventional methods.