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Reducing Costs and Energy in Aerospace Manufacturing

Manufacturing Group | November 27, 2012

A Canadian university will study superalloy bonding to develop stronger, lighter aircraft engine parts.

Reducing Costs and Energy in Aerospace Manufacturing

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Pratt & Whitney Canada have partnered to award a $1.25 million Industrial Research Chair (IRC) to Dr. Stephen Corbin of Dalhousie's Faculty of Engineering. The Chair will study superalloy bonding as a way to develop stronger, lighter aircraft engine parts using less material and less energy.

Today's conventional manufacturing processes for aircraft engine parts often start with large blocks of solid material, of which up to 90% may be cut away to produce the part. This is both costly and requires significant energy.

"We want to develop new ways to make these superalloy engine parts at lower costs, through the use of less material and less energy and therefore making less of an environmental impact," says Dr. Stephen Corbin.

In partnership with Pratt & Whitney Canada, Dr. Corbin will investigate two metallurgical processes (i.e. brazing and sintering) capable of developing a net shape manufacturing method using less material. Advanced thermal analysis tools will be used to gain detailed insight into the brazing and sintering processes to optimize these methods.

This research into advanced materials processing will lead to better manufacturing methods that will revolutionize how aircraft engine parts are made while reducing both costs and the industry environmental footprint, and benefitting Canada's economy.

One goal of the Chair is to further develop highly qualified personnel, which is key to keeping the industry healthy in Canada. The Chair will provide graduate students with a unique opportunity to work closely with Pratt & Whitney Canada to better understand the relationship between basic science and application in an engineering manufacturing environment.

"A distinguished leader in his field with extensive experience working with industry, Dr. Corbin's challenging research program promises to bring significant advancements for the materials used by Canada's aerospace sector," says Suzanne Fortier, president of NSERC. "The state-of-the-art facilities accessible through this research program provide a unique training experience for Dr. Corbin's students, as they work to address challenges currently being faced by aerospace companies."

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