Most aircraft component are currently being manufactured by machining, forging, welding and also assembling such parts. However, the possibilities of cutting cost from a single component has brought about a growing trend towards looking into casting as a possible option for manufacturing aircraft parts.
This study was done at the request of Saab Avitronics. It evaluates the possibilities of one aircraft part, a chassis for an electronic unit that was first designed to be machined from a blank, to be cast. The study goes through the multifaceted tasks of product development. Casting process selection, cast alloy selection as well as geometry modification were some of these tasks that were performed in this thesis. It also evaluates the performances of chosen casting processes, the design of gating systems as well as various process parameters set, by simulating the casting processes.
The alloy chosen was A356.0 with a T6 temper and the casting processes chosen were plaster mold casting and rheocasting. The geometry of the original chassis, which had very thin sections and undercuts which were complex to cast, was modified and made easier to cast with an acceptable slight increase of mass and size. The modification done on the geometry as well as the gating systems used had proven to be worthwhile, as the simulation of both process showed that such a part can be casted with no crucial defects foreseen.
However, probable cavities might occur at the very tip of the chassis‟s thin-fins – that it has for carrying away heat. Minor subsurface porosities might also be formed, which would not impair the function of the chassis. The modified chassis was made as close to as finished piece as possible, for the purpose of reducing machining costs.
The cost of producing such a part by casting was also seen to be much less than machining it from blank. This could be taken as rationale for casting the chassis with thicker sections, to avoid problems that may arise in casting, and to subsequently machine these faces later, as it would still be cheaper than machining the chassis from a blank.
Source: Jönköping University
Authors: Endrias Teklu, Rebal Marcos