GE Additive and GE Aviation received an official approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to replace a traditionally manufactured power door opening system (PDOS) bracket, used on GE Aviation’s GEnx-2B commercial airline engines installed in the Boeing 747-8, with a 3D printed bracket.
The newly approved 3D printed part will now be mass manufactured at GE Aviation’s production facility in Auburn, Alabama. It will be manufactured using GE Additive Concept Laser M2 cusing Multilaser machines. GE Aviation believes that the first GEnx engines with the new 3D printed brackets will be shipped in January 2019.
The main purpose of the PDOS bracket is to open and close the fan cowl doors while on the ground to enable access to the fan compartment for maintenance reasons.
According to Eric Gatlin, general manager, additive integrated product team, GE Aviation, “We chose this project because it represented several firsts for us. It’s the first program we certified on a Concept Laser machine. It’s also the first project we took from design to production in less than ten months.”
Benefits of the 3D Printed PDOS Bracket
The original PDOS bracket was manufactured using traditional manufacturing methods like milling. It was a completely dense solid block of metal. This resulted in 50% material wastage. By using the new DMLM 3D printing technology, the company has now reduced the wastage by around 90%. Due to the new modified design, it reduced the weight of the bracket by 10%, which is a very significant amount in the aviation industry.
GE Aviation brought the production of PDOS completely in-house which has helped them in significantly reducing the production costs.
The bracket will be made from cobalt-chrome alloy over a traditional nickel-based superalloy. It will be printed on the Concept Laser M2 cusing machine. At a single time, four brackets will be printed which is equivalent to printing an aircraft’s worth of brackets in one build.
Views on the 3D printed PDOS Bracket
Eric Gatlin expressed great enthusiasm about the successful completion of the project and stated, “To ensure the M2 cusing machines were certified to meet the strict requirements for the aerospace industry, collaboration on this program has been closer than usual with our colleagues at GE Additive. As we continue thinking about the many parts we can design, redesign and manufacture on GE Additive machines, I’m looking forward to putting both our teams and the technology through their paces.”
Congratulating both the GE Additive and GE Aviation team, Jason Oliver, President & CEO, GE Additive said, “It’s been outstanding to watch teams from GE Aviation, GE Additive across the US, Mexico and Germany collaborate. In such a short space of time, they have really excelled with the PDOS bracket and achieved a truly ground-breaking success. Seeing the M2 machines produce flight quality hardware, and demonstrating what it is truly capable of, is another great milestone in our own additive journey.”