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Journal of Materials Processing Technology 187188 (2007) 582585


Near net shape forming process of a titanium alloy impeller

K. Shi , D.B. Shan, W.C. Xu, Y. Lu
School of Materials Science and Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, No. 92, West Da-Zhi Street, Harbin 150001, PR China

Abstract The complex components such as the impellers are difcult to manufacture because of their complicated shapes and high requirements of mechanical properties. In order to form the titanium impeller precisely two forming schemes with two die devices were designed. Three-dimensional nite element method (FEM) was used to simulate the forming process of the impeller and study the metal ow laws. Several key factors such as the loading scheme, die structure and billet shape were studied in detail. The simulated and experimental results show that the titanium alloy impeller with radial twisted blades can be precisely forged with the isothermal enclosed die forging technology. The local loading technology can control metal ow, so the forgeability of the impeller blades can be improved and the aws such as underll and ash can be avoided. 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Titanium alloy impeller; Isothermal enclosed die forging; FEM simulation; Model experiment

1. Introduction The titanium impeller is an important part in the airspace engine that serves under severe working conditions, and it requires high dimensional precision and excellent mechanical properties. However, the impeller is difcult to manufacture because of its complicated shape, such as many twisted blades, uneven thickness of the blade bodies and narrow space length between two blades. At present, these complex parts are mainly machined on a 5 axis-of-freedom NC machining center from a cylindrical billet and a long process time of more than 1 week is needed. Material utilization and efciency are low, particularly, the inner ow lines are cut off and the fatigue life of the product decreases sharply. If the conventional forging is used, the metal is difcult to ll the long and narrow die cavities because of the high deformation resistance and die chilling [1]. Moreover, the forging part cannot be removed easily from the female die because of the twisted blades. Because of these problems, new processes are required to near net shape form the impeller. The technology of enclosed die forging can make sure that the complex forging part can be removed from the female dies, which are designed to be separable [2]. Furthermore, the inner metal ow lines follow the counter of the product and the mechanical properties can be improved greatly [3]. Isothermal forging requires hot plastic deformation of metal at constant tem-

perature with low strain rates, so its dies should also be heated and kept to the same temperature as the workpiece during forging. This technology can effectively raise the metal plasticity and ow properties, improve the homogeneity of metal ow and decrease the deformation pressure [4,5]. In this paper, two isothermal enclosed die forging schemes were designed in order to precisely forge the titanium alloy impeller. 3D nite element method (FEM) is used to study the deformation laws of the forging process. 2A70 alloy was selected for model test of the forming process of titanium alloy impeller. At last the titanium alloy impeller with excellent mechanical properties was near net shape forged under the isothermal condition. 2. Design of forming schemes and die device There are 34 twisted blades including 17 long blades and 17 short blades on the impeller forging. Two forming schemes are designed to precisely forge the impeller, one being integral loading and the other local loading, as shown in Fig. 1. The main differences between two methods are the loading modes of punches and the deformation modes of billets. Fig. 1 (a) shows a biscuit is employed in the rst method. The forming process is an extrusion-deformation operation (mainly radial extrusion deformation). The yielding area occurs on the entire conical face of the billet when the blades begin to form, so the billet is integral loaded. Billet 2 is upsetted rstly, then, it is radial extruded to ll the cavities of female dies. The yielding area mainly occurs on area A when the blades begin to form, as shown in Fig. 1 (b), so billet 2 is local loaded.

Corresponding author. E-mail address: (K. Shi).

0924-0136/$ see front matter 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jmatprotec.2006.11.033

K. Shi et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 187188 (2007) 582585


Fig. 1. Schematic diagrams of die devices: (a) integral loading; (b) local loading.

on it [6,7]. A 3D nite element software DEFORM3D was used to simulate the forging process of the impeller. The material used for simulation was Ti6.5Al3.5Mo1.5Zr0.3Si. The speed of the punch was 1 mm/s. Constant friction coefcient of 0.3 was selected. The geometric shapes of the billets used for two methods are shown in Figs. 3(a) and 4 (a). In order to save computing time, the forming process of one long blade was simulated and 1/6 of the billet was used. 3.2. Results of FEM simulation Fig. 3 shows the forming process of an impeller blade using the rst method. From the gure it can be seen that deformation primarily occurs on region A that is the contact area of billet and bottom boss, shown in Fig. 3 (a). When the entire conical face of the billet meets the female dies the entire blade is formed at the same time, as shown in Fig. 3 (b) and (c). Because the contact area becomes large, the metal billet is difcult to ow into the die cavity to form the blade. At the nal stage of deformation the forging part almost becomes a rigid body, so the corner of the die cavity is difcult to be lled up. Higher forging pressure on billet 1 is needed. But the female dies would be damaged if the press load were very high. The nal product with a good shape cannot be guaranteed and some defects such as underll may be generated at the end of the blade, shown in Fig. 3 (d). The forming process of the blade using the second method is shown in Fig. 4, which involves upset in the axial direction and extrusion in the radial direction of billet 2. It is clear that the deformation mode is different from the rst method. Fig. 4 (a) indicates that the metal begins to ow into female dies cavities at the beginning when press load is still small on step 35, and it is because the bottom metal including area A and B contacts female dies at the same time before deformation. Then the blade

Fig. 2. Photograph of combined female dies.

The structure of the female dies and the position of the parting plane are the most important factors to die design. Because of the special shape of the impeller, the combined female dies that are made up of 17 identical die sections are designed, and the die sections can be separated along the width of the blade. Fig. 2 is the photograph of the combined female dies. Each die cavity for a long blade is composed of two die sections. The recess hole in the middle of each die section is designed for a short blade. 3. FEM simulation of forming process of the impeller 3.1. Simulated conditions It is useful and necessary to simulate the forming process because it is helpful to understand the laws of metal ow and die lling, so the optimum parameters can be determined based

Fig. 3. Forming process of an impeller by integral loading.


K. Shi et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 187188 (2007) 582585

Fig. 4. Forming process of an impeller by local loading.

is formed from bottom to top and only the central part of the forging is pressed, so the metal is easily deformed with lower press load than the pressure on billet 1. Fig. 4 (d) shows the end of the blade can be completely lled up without any defects on its surface. Furthermore, the results calculated by FEM shows the press load of scheme 2 is just about 65% of the value of scheme 1. Obviously, it is advisable to select the second method.
4. Experimental study of forming process of the impeller 4.1. Model experiment of the aluminium alloy impeller
It is difcult to manufacture a titanium alloy impeller because of the high resistance to titanium alloy. Therefore, 2A70 alloy was selected as the model material for modeling the practical forging process of the titanium alloy impeller. The material of dies was 5CrNiMo. The die device was mounted on a 50,000 kN hydraulic press with an average speed of 1 mm/s. The billet and the dies were lubricated before heating to the working temperature. A water-based graphite lubricant was applied after heating the billet and the dies to about 150 C. The working temperature was about 430 C and was kept the same during forging. The forging process included a period of load sustaining to ensure that the ends of blades could be fully lled up. The 2A70 alloy impeller forged using the rst method is shown in Fig. 5, and the press load is 16,000 kN. As it can be seen in the photograph, there is a big ash at the bottom of the impeller forging and insufcient lling at the long blades. Furthermore, the female dies are damaged because the press load is very large. Experiment results by using the second method are given in Table 1. The results show that the press load can be obviously decreased. Meanwhile, the dimension accuracy of the product can be guaranteed. The experiments are in good agreement with the results calculated by FEM and all results show the rationality of local loading method.

Table 1 Results of forming scheme 2 Item Temperature ( C) Pressure (kN) Results 1 430 5,000 Underll 2 435 12,500 Good shape 3 430 11,000 Good shape

Fig. 6. Photograph of a titanium alloy impeller.

4.2. Isothermal forging process of a titanium alloy impeller

The billet material of Ti6.5Al3.5Mo1.5Zr0.3Si was used. The material of dies was nickel-based superalloy K403. Glass lubricant was employed after heating the billet and the dies to about 200 C. The working temperature was about 950 C and was kept the same during forging. The forging process also included a period of pressure maintaining. Fig. 6 shows a titanium alloy impeller forging using the second method. The impeller with a good shape is forged under the pressure of 14,500 kN. According to the measurement, its surface quality and physical dimension meet the requirement for subsequent process. The forged impeller has been heat treated in order to improve the mechanical properties. Table 2 lists the test results of the product. Table 2 Mechanical properties of the impeller Item b (MPa) 5 (%) (%) Hb K (J/cm2 ) Requirement 9601160 10 25 269363 30 Test values 969 17.43 26 305.5 65.1 Result Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable Acceptable

Fig. 5. Photograph of an aluminium alloy impeller.

K. Shi et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 187188 (2007) 582585 It can be seen that all the data satisfy the operating demands. Therefore, it can be concluded that the technology of isothermal enclosed die forging a titanium impeller is reliable.


(3) Local loading technology can decrease the press load and improve the formability of the impeller through controlling the mode of metal ow. The mechanical properties of the forged titanium alloy impeller are excellent. References

5. Conclusions Based on FEM simulation and model experiment, the titanium alloy impeller with many complex blades was near net shape forged with the technology of isothermal enclosed die forging. These results can be applied to form other components with similar shapes. The conclusions obtained are as followed: (1) The combined female dies can be separated along the widths of blades, so complex impeller with twisted blades can be taken out from the die cavities easily. (2) The deformation of the blades depends mainly on the radial extrusion of the material. Integral loading method extrudes the material into the die cavities directly, but the impeller blades cannot be formed easily because the yielding area is large. The forming property of the blades cannot be improved by increasing the press load. Furthermore, the female dies would be damaged if the pressure were very large.

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