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Engineering the TKF1000 installation at TWI UK

21 September, 2022

It took just six weeks for Titomic’s robotic automation group and a global team of suppliers to complete the first-ever installation of our TKF1000 Additive Manufacturing system in a commercial setting – sparking endless possibilities for aerospace manufacturing.

For Titomic’s Manufacturing Engineer, Dinesh Prasobhan, it’s difficult to put into words the excitement of completing the installation of our TKF1000 cold spray system at leading technology and research organisation, TWI UK.
“Having a customer with TWI’s credentials willing to take our technology and use it in a commercial setting is huge,” Dinesh says.
“It will be an exciting few months and years ahead, as TWI and its members leverage the system to do things that have never been done before.”
Announced in August last year, the A$2.28 million purchase order – funded by the Aerospace Technology Institute and forming the basis of TWI’s overarching cold spray additive manufacturing project – will allow the organisation’s industrial members to join a portfolio of projects as they develop and validate manufacturing opportunities, while also providing a unique competitive advantage for the UK’s aerospace industry.

Orbiting new challenges

The automation team at Titomic faced a tight timeline for the project. And while supply and logistics issues stemming from the global pandemic posed unexpected challenges, it only took a little over a year from design to installation.
“We were able to leverage Titomic Europe to make the parts, which greatly reduced the lead time by saving months on shipping,” Dinesh says.
“And because TWI already had experience with their own cold spray machine and have been in business as long as we have, it really helped that they knew what we were doing and the challenges we were facing together.”
In fact, a major part of the project’s success was the synergy between the two teams, as well as with the various contractors who were brought in from across the globe to complete the installation at TWI’s Cambridge headquarters.
“Everyone worked well together and collaborated to figure out workarounds when needed,” Dinesh says. “Considering we only had six weeks – including training – to complete the install, everything went really smoothly.”

Approaching a new frontier

Although the installation is complete, TWI and its members haven’t been left on their own. Dinesh and his team will continue following up to make improvements to the bespoke system, as well as provide servicing and other support.
“It’s not just about the machine,” he says. “It’s about the technology too – and helping the customer take it to the next level.”
While it’s impossible to predict all the possibilities that the TKF1000 will unlock for TWI and aerospace R&D, the all-in-one program (which runs both the robot and control system) will certainly help make building with cold spray easier than ever before – especially as in the past the robot and control system were run separately.
TWI and its members will also be able to create simpler geometries, while fusing dissimilar materials to make new multi-metal parts. At the same time, the TKF1000 will provide a better working space for additive tool manufacturing, as well as more detailed data for improving processes.
“All of us at Titomic are curious to see how TWI and its members will push boundaries with this technology – such as working with titanium to unlock the future of aerospace,” Dinesh says.
“Before, we were just validating the technology, so to be able to now justify that in a commercial setting is invaluable – and really exciting.”
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