South West Metal Finishing (SWMF) could improve the surface of AM parts for aerospace.
South West Metal Finishing (SWMF) could improve the surface of AM parts for aerospace.

Surface coating specialist South West Metal Finishing (SWMF) has developed a new chemical immersion treatment to improve the surface of additive manufactured (AM) parts for aerospace. The Almbrite process chemically removes material from each surface to achieve the final condition required.

‘We were approached by our clients in the aerospace and defence sectors soon after additive manufacturing started to be used,’ said lead researcher James Bradbury. ‘…[O]ne of the challenges regularly mentioned was the poor finish of AM components. They were often rough or porous, with semi melted powder particles. That can obviously affect the performance of the component, which cannot happen when you’re making an aircraft.

‘The aerospace industry is adopting AM, though it needed time to collate data and carry out stringent tests before it was confident the components could withstand the operating conditions to which they would be subjected,’ he added. ‘Now the processes are considered safe enough they must make sure the finish of these components fulfil the necessary requirements.

‘We are taking it to the next level and we believe Almbrite could address many of the issues currently facing those in AM in the aerospace industry.’

South West Metal Finishing’s Research and Development department began working on the Almbrite project in 2014 and the company now believes this finishing process could help double its turnover from £6 million to £12 million within four years.

This story uses material from South West Metal Finishing, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.