Additively manufactured nickel alloy borescope boss from MTU Aero Engines.
The upcoming issue of TCT Magazine (subscribe for free) features an update on all the latest additive manufacturing developments from the aerospace industry including headline grabbing stories about 1,000 3D printed on an aeroplane to huge names like GE using additive technologies to consolidate complex parts.
The latest edition to the aerospace story is from MTU Aero Engines, a Munich based company that is using additive manufacturing technology to power the new Airbus A320neo jetliner.
MTU is always researching innovative materials and production processes to achieve benefits in cost, weight and function, while maintaining safety. For this Airbus project, the aim was a 15 per cent reduction in fuel consumption for the A320neo compared with its predecessor.
The company currently operates seven additive manufacturing machines from EOS and has been using them for series production of nickel alloy borescope bosses. They form part of the turbine housing for the A320neo’s GTF engine and allow the blading to be inspected at intervals for wear and damage using an endoscope, which in the aerospace sector is termed a borescope.
Previously, the bosses were cast, or milled from solid. It was the cost advantages of using EOS technology that was the decisive factor in adopting AM for this application, both in the development stages and in production. The Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM is the first aero engine to be equipped with borescope bosses produced by additive manufacturing.
Preparations for series production of the borescope bosses at MTU have now begun. Sixteen parts per build are envisaged, totalling up to 2,000 parts per year. The percentage cost saving compared to previously established manufacturing processes is expected to be in double figures and the quality level is already high. MTU and EOS are working together to optimise the finish of the component surface.
“About ten years ago, we began using AM to produce tools and development components,” Dr Karl-Heinz Dusel, Director of Rapid Technologies at MTU explained. “To optimise utilisation of the capacity, we went in search of further areas where we could apply the technology. We see a lot of potential for the manufacture of further series components for aero engine construction, such as bearing housings and turbine airfoils, both of which need to meet the highest demands in terms of safety and reliability.”