First Additive Manufactured Part to Be Installed on GE Engines

The FAA has given “change in design” approval for additively manufactured power door opening system (PDOS) brackets.

GE Additive and GE Aviation have announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given “change in design” approval to replace a conventionally manufactured power door opening system (PDOS) bracket with an additively manufactured bracket. GE Aviation anticipates the first GEnx engines installed with the new brackets will be shipped in January 2019. The PDOS is used on the ground to open and close the fan cowl doors to enable access to the fan compartment for maintenance reasons.

The original brackets were produced from a solid block of metal, using conventional methods such as milling. This technique resulted in around 50 percent of the material being wasted.  Using direct metal laser melting (DMLM) additive technology to manufacture the new brackets, waste has been reduced by as much as 90 percent and the weight has been reduced by 10 percent. The decision to mass produce using a cobalt-chrome alloy over a traditional nickel-based superalloy has enabled a faster build.

To make this approach as efficient as possible, four brackets will be printed at the same time.

An interlocking design enables all four brackets to fit on a single build plate. With this configuration, the Concept Laser M2 Cusing machine’s pair of lasers can print an aircraft’s worth of brackets in one build, before postprocessing and inspection. Bringing the production of these brackets in-house will allow GE Aviation to reduce costs as well.

“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 10 months,” says Eric Gatlin, general manager, additive integrated product team, GE Aviation.

“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,” Gatlin adds.