Low Cost Machining of Nickel Alloys for Aerospace Components

Period of Performance: 02/28/2009 - 02/27/2010


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Third Wave Systems, Inc.
6475 City West Parkway
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Principal Investigator


The use of nickel alloys is pervasive in jet engine components and includes cases and fatigue critical rotating parts in the compressor and turbine sections. Machining nickel alloys represents a singular challenge due to the alloys¡¦ exceptional high temperature strength characteristics. This is marked by low material removal rates (MRR), long cycle times and high tooling costs. Our program will demonstrate the feasibility of innovative high-performance machining (HPM) enabled by physics-based modeling for low-cost fabrication of nickel-based aerospace engine components required for fixed wing and rotorcraft fleet sustainment. HPM will reduce costs of nickel aerospace components through a 100% increase in (MRR) while maintaining tool life. This unique approach will allow the use of conventional machine tools and eliminate the need for expensive capital equipment investment, leading to improved fleet sustainment through shorter cycle times, reduced costs, and increased supplier base. Our technical objectives include: (1) advancing physics-based modeling of nickel alloys, (2) demonstrating increased MRR via HPM for fundamental operations, and (3) demonstrating increased MRR via HPM for feature machining. The anticipated results include the demonstration of the feasibility of enabling physics-based modeling approach to analyze and dramatically improve machining of nickel alloys via the application of HPM.