Integrating metal components within composite designs

March 5, 2018
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Design Challenge

Product engineers focused on component weight reduction often utilize composites in preference to metal for the manufacture of components or assemblies. In many circumstances, composite materials alone cannot provide the required strength properties to fulfill the function of the part.

Composite parts therefore often require additional tensile and elongation strength properties to support the desired product design. By integrating lightweight metal components within the overall composite structure, Sylatech can enable customers to achieve the required mechanical properties, whilst maintaining the use of composites in their designs.

Using 3D printing, Sylatech customers can realise a time reduction in the project design stage, leading to an earlier placement of tooling orders and thus a faster delivery of production volumes.

Rapid Product Development

3D printing coupled with Sylatech’s block moulding casting process, affords a cost-effective prototyping solution for the rapid delivery of high quality components. This process is popular with designers as it offers flexibility and time saving throughout the design process.

  • Accelerated product development and delivery of design prototypes
  • Design flexibility
  • Increased strength properties of composite components
  • A process also capable of delivering production volumes
  • Timely and cost-effective manufacture of tooling
  • Certified to AS9100 and also to Nadcap for welding.

With 3D Printing and the Sylatech block moulding casting process, designs can be tested within a few days before investing in tooling.

“Sylatech’s manufacturing capability delivers both prototype and production volume parts within the AS9100 aerospace quality standard.  By focusing on designing for manufacture, Sylatech’s approach delivers a cost-effective solution for production volume where size, weight and quality matter.” Nigel Griffin, Technical Engineer, Sylatech

Integrating investment castings provides mechanical support to key areas of stress or localized loads.

Post Processing & Traceability

The manufacture of prototype and production parts via Sylatech’s processes can also include a number of post-processing operations.

  • Applied surface treatments
  • Penetrant testing and x-ray
  • Age hardening

Sylatech offers full component traceability to the melt.

Assessing Alloy Options

Choosing the appropriate metal for integration within a composite design is key. Consideration of elongation and tensile strength are important aspects that will drive the choice of material and can affect a products design. Sylatech typically casts product in the aerospace grade aluminium A356 and also LM25/L99. A356 delivers a tensile strength of 234 N/mm2 and an improved elongation over die cast materials such as LM24.

Example Cost Benefit

  • Tooling which is 1/10th of the cost of a die casting tool
  • Components which are often 30% of the cost of machining from solid.
Traditional tooling approach 3D printing
Project development cost £3,700* £400**
Project development time 4 weeks 5 days

* Creation of 1 tool (£3,000) + 2 metal prototypes (£200) + 1 modification of tool if required (£500)

** 2 metal prototypes 3D printed and cast (£400)

Once the customer is ready to produce a component in production volume, investing in tooling is still necessary.

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Please contact our RF/Microwave engineering team to discuss how we can meet your requirements. +44 (0) 1751 432 355 or via email, engineer@sylatech.com.
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