Luis Trápaga
Director General
Advanced Technology Center (CIATEQ)
View from the Top

Fostering Mexican R&D

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 10:50

Q: How do CIATEQ's capabilities complement local centers and universities that cater to the aerospace industry?

A: One of CIATEQ’s primary functions is to aid other CONACYT centers and local universities in the development of additive manufacturing solutions of metal and polymeric materials for aerospace projects. We manage important technology advances that help develop the national aeronautics industry, particularly prototypes of new products and turbine component repairs. CIATEQ can also manufacture large pieces that require high precision. We also work on the design and manufacturing of machinery to meet the specific needs of our aerospace clients.

CIATEQ hosts R&D operations to develop metal alloys through Direct Melting Laser Sintering processes for additive manufacturing. Several repair processes for components used in the aerospace industry rely on the use of this technology. The center also manufactures functional coating using a thermal spraying method. We have developed a joint investigation project with the Center for Engineering and Industrial Development (CIDESI) and CINVESTAV Queretaro for the development of thermal barriers and hard coating used on turbines.

Q: How does CIATEQ contribute to the implementation of materials testing and R&D activities?

A: We are deeply involved in the materials testing field. CIATEQ is equipped with a mechanical trial lab, with two testing and sensing MTS servo-hydraulic machines for high and low-temperature fatigue tests. Our equipment allows the execution of tests at temperatures of up to 1,200°C and classification of the mechanical properties of several materials used in the aerospace industry such as Inconel, titanium, stainless steel, several alloys and carbon fiber.

For manufacturing, we engage in extractive processes using numerical control machinery of three and five axes. This machinery is used for high-precision manufacturing of large components. For prototype manufacturing, the center has equipment designed for polymer additive manufacturing through fused deposition modeling, laser sintering and photo-polymerization processes. Such technologies can be used to manufacture new models for existing products that reduce weight and new functionalities for existing aerospace components.

We also have a one of a kind 3-D printing system that works through metal laser sintering. It manufactures pieces and components in several metals and alloys such as stainless steel, tool steel, aluminum and titanium. We hope that in the future, this system will allow us to manufacture prototypes and to repair propulsion system components.

Q: How do you contribute to the development of human capital specializing in the aerospace industry?

A: CIATEQ offers three different Master’s degrees and one PhD program, all of which are certified by CONACYT’s National Quality Graduate Program. Our graduate programs are characterized by a strong link with industry. Since students work at a company related to aerospace they then usually develop their dissertation trying to solve a real-life problem they encountered during their previous jobs, which contributes to local R&D.

In 2012, CIATEQ worked alongside CIDESI and the Center of Research and Technologic Development in Electrochemistry (CIDETEQ) to strengthen Mexican aerospace SMEs. The project integrated 22 companies to the aerospace supply chain through the AS 9100C certification, encouraging participation from local companies. In this context, CIATEQ opened a high-temperature mechanical testing laboratory for alloys used in aerospace.

CIATEQ also played an important role in the creation and consolidation of the National Laboratory on Thermal Spray and PVD (CENAPROT). Thermal projection allows for metallic, ceramic or compound materials to be added to a component that permits the modification of its superficial properties. The modification increases the material’s resistance to erosion and corrosion and reduces its thermal connectivity. This process is used to manufacture aircraft components, particularly for propulsion and landing, and the laboratory’s capabilities increase the usable lifespan of components.