Additive manufacturing can also be used to repair components of aircraft engine
The exciting news for air transport, and aviation in general, is that the brand new additive technology, which already allows engine parts to be produced by 3D printing, can also be used to repair the components of an aircraft engine. In fact, among the additive technologies recently developed, Cold Spray is finally to be applied in Avio Aero, and for the first time in GE, on the accessory drive train of the GE90. In addition, the Avio Aero repair teams at Brindisi and the Additive Repair Development Centre at the Polytechnic of Bari are proceeding with the development and study of this technology (as well as Laser Deposition) for several other applications. These include portions of components or engine parts for other aircraft, such as the GEnx, CFM56, and some others which power the largest aircraft daily flying between countries and continents.
All this is certainly common knowledge at Avio Aero’s largest repair station for civil engines, in Pomigliano d’Arco, as well as at the other European GE Aviation centers in Wales and Scotland involved in additive repair technology. “For about ten years we have been studying alternative solutions for the repair of complex parts of engines that are used extensively worldwide, just like the GE90,” says Raffaele Sepe, CRO & Assembly Manufacturing Engineering Manager at Pomigliano. “Cold Spray is a truly advanced technology that allows much more efficient solutions for engine maintenance, and therefore for airlines.”
In fact the accessory drive trains (but also the power gears of the TP400 for example) of the airline engines come to Pomigliano mainly for ordinary maintenance comparable to that carried out on cars and motorcycles, with the due proportions and appropriate distinctions. “There is no scheduled maintenance deadline for an aircraft engine, pilots and airlines steadily check the engine condition by monitoring significant critical parameters, such as temperature, turbine gas, cycles or hours accumulated…”. And it is right for this reason that in-flight diagnostics and digital systems for collecting such data are a fundamental objective for excellence in aircraft engine maintenance and prevention.