GE Starting Mass Production for 3DP Engine Bracket

Nov. 4, 2018
FAA okays converted design for chrome-cobalt component of GEnx-2B engine

A 3D-printed, cobalt-chrome alloy component for GE Aviation commercial aircraft engines has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to replace the existing part, a power door-opening system (PDOS) bracket for the GEnx-2B engine. GE Additive will start mass producing the brackets this month at its plant in Auburn, Ala.

The PDOS is used on the ground to open and close the engines’ fan cowl doors, to give maintenance access to the fan compartment. The GEnx-2B is a dual-rotor, high-bypass turbofan engine produced for the Boeing 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner.

The original bracket design were milled and finished from a solid metal block. According to GE Additive, the new production rout saves about 50% of the total material requirements, and reduces waste by up to 90%.

GE Aviation noted it also improved the design of the 3DP version to reduce its weight by 10%. It adopted a cobalt-chrome alloy over a more standard nickel-based superalloy, which accelerates build-time, with all four brackets for an individual PDOS being printed simultaneously on a single plate.

GE Additive will produce the part by “direct metal laser melting” (DMLM), and additive manufacturing process involving powder metal deposition and laser sintering. GE uses M2 cusing Multilaser machines, developed by Concept Laser AG, a GE-controlled business since 2016.

After printing, the brackets are finish-machined and inspected.

GE Aviation also noted that printing the parts brings the bracket production “in house”, which helps to reduce production costs.

“We chose this project because it represented several firsts for us,” stated Eric Gatlin, general manager, additive integrated product team, GE Aviation. “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.”