Design and hard machining of a high performance ceramic impeller

E. Uhlmann (Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology)

The constant development and improvement of mechanical and chemical properties of high performance ceramics allows the expansion of its actual applications. In comparison to metal materials, the use of novel high performance components can offer numerous advantages. In turbomachinery, a full ceramic impeller can fulfil the requirements of efficiency and high turbine inlet temperatures combined with lower cooling requirements, reduced combustion emissions and fuel consumption.

This is feasible not only thanks to the properties of the ceramics, but also by the interaction of this with simulation, design optimization, manufacturing processes and a high quality finishing by hard machining. However, the machining of brittle material components with complex geometries remains a challenge in terms of resultant surface characteristics, tribological properties, geometric accuracy and process costs. In this scenario, 5-axis grinding with mounted points and innovative strategies provide new possibilities for the manufacturing of these complexes components. The current work aims at a practice-oriented design and the following hard machining of a hot isostatically pressed silicon nitride (HIPSN) impeller with complex geometry and high requirements, gathering low geometrical deviations, reduced brittle fractures and roughness at the ground part. To achieve these objectives, different machining strategies and parameters are tested and correlated with the resulting quality of the component. Simulation techniques are also shown to ensure optimum operating conditions for the ceramic component.