Innovation Space is Roscongress project that aims to help Russian technology solutions and turn them into efficient business. Engineers from St. Petersburg Polytechnic University are working together with the Roscongress Foundation to present their projects at this years SCIENCE FEST Science and Innovation Festival. Take a moment of your time to check out these projects online.
Wire instead of powder will drive production cost down manyfold
Engineers from the Lightweight Materials and Structures Laboratory at St. Petersburg Polytechnic University developed a technology for wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) that requires wire instead of powder. It will drive the cost of additive manufacturing down and could make the cost of manufacturing basic shape items comparable to turn/mill machines. For example, the cost of aluminium wire is about RUB 1,000 per kilo, while aluminium powder is 10 to 20 times more expensive. Besides, wire helps build large structures and produce single items or batches. The process requires an industrial robot and special software.
Production facilities already took interest in this technology. The R&D group from St. Petersburg Polytechnic University printed a vent fan blade for their industrial partner. The blade is 50 cm tall and weighs almost 60 kilos. Such blades are normally used in large industrial vent fans. «We are saving time: it takes us three days to make such a blade with a wire. Printing with powder would require over a week. We are saving materials: this blade is hollow, which is unattainable for foundry or milling technologies. With us, people get to choose any shape: this technology allows for any shape of the item,» shared Oleg Panchenko, Head of the Lightweight Materials and Structures Laboratory.
WAAM on video
Virtual testing for aircrafts
Another promising R&D product from St. Petersburg Polytechnic University is a virtual proving ground that helps assess aircraft parameters required for its entry into service right from the office. Test stands Static Strength, Damage Tolerance, Lifespan, Wing, and Gas Dynamics can be used to test static strength of structural elements, fatigue life, probability of critical component failure, hail tolerance, and bird-strike resistance.
According to engineers, the Wing proving ground alone reduces in situ testing by 80%. «Comprehensive in-situ hail tolerance and bird-strike resistance tests require dozens of air gun shots with hailstones, birds and gelatine simulators at every structural element. Virtual tests performed with the help the proving ground help balance out the requirements, take parameters to target levels without expensive in situ tests,» noted Pyotr Gavrilov, Head of Cross-Industry Technologies Department at the Centre of Excellence in New Manufacturing Technologies (St. Petersburg Polytechnic University).
The Gas Dynamics test stand helps check the aerodynamic efficiency of air foils and the whole aircraft without high-cost experiments that involve a large space, a wind tunnel, a wind-tunnel balance, and the prototype under study.
This product is of interest for a leading aircraft making company and light aircraft designers.
Flying ground effect vehicles will charge unmanned aircrafts
Shtorm-600, a unique unmanned vehicle, will enter a test stage in summer 2020. This is a hovercraft with artificial-intelligence-enhanced decision making. The flying boat can top out at 200 km/h. In the near future, this number can go up to 300 km/h with unlimited distance-to-empty: the wings of the vehicle are equipped with enough solar panels for specific tasks. Researchers suggest that Shtorm-600 can be used as a mobile platform for charging unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles. Besides, this ground effect vehicle can be involved in patrolling offshore areas, search and rescue operations, and cargo delivery.
«It is very energy efficient and operates dawn-to-dusk. Once, the boat was running for six days without interruption. It could actually carry on, but we stopped the test, as record setting was not among our objectives,» explained Alexey Maistro, T.A. of the Higher School of Physics and Technology at St. Petersburg Polytechnic University.
The ground effect vehicle uses GPS to follow the targeted trajectory and manoeuvre. It detects obstacles and can move around them. At the moment, a group of young researchers is developing a programme that would combine terrain and bathymetrical maps with an automated identification system receiving data from other vessels.
SmartFoil will secure things that cannot be brazed
Experts from the Institute of Physics, Nanotechnologies and Telecommunications develop a technology called SmartFoil meant for rapid cold soldering. Nanolayers of the SmartFoil is applied to sensor system surfaces. It starts an exothermic reaction that heats the foil to 1,300C at a super high rate and melts it, which attaches the sensor to the surface. The temperature is high enough to fix the sensor, but not high enough to damage it. The key advantage of this method is that it helps secure elements that cannot be brazed. Several Russian production facilities have already introduced this technology into their operations, which resulted in optimization and higher output.
Olga Kvashenkina, Head of the Self-Organizing Hyperthermal Nanostructures Lab (St. Petersburg Polytechnic University) notes: «The nature of our technology makes it universally applicable. But if introduced into a new process line with specific equipment parameters, SmartFoil can be modified for this particular operation. This a very solid product a research, engineering, and innovative one.»