GE Aviation has recently signed a Joint Technology Development Agreement (JTDA) with Sigma Labs to advance and implement in-process inspection technologies for additive manufactured jet engine components like the LEAP fuel nozzle.
GE's new 3-D printed jet engine fuel nozzle is 25 percent lighter and as much as five times more durable than the current nozzle made from 20 different parts, According to GE.
However dealing with a microscopic weld pool that's moving at hundreds of millimeters per second, GE has to have a good quality control methods for preventing defects. "When the weld pool is too small, things could be colder than they should be, when it's too big, it could be too hot," says Todd Rockstroh, a mechanical engineer at GE Aviation.
The new in-process inspection technologies can collect all the data and information from sensors and analyze mechanical stability of the 3D printing machines and the laser beams. These big data is then fed into algorithms for spotting potential trouble or determine what went wrong or worked well.
"We are talking about monitoring large parts that take anywhere between 10 to 100 hours to produce," Rockstroh says. "That's when it gets real tricky. It is critical to know how each cubic millimeter is being built and not trust that you are good enough at process control."
This "in-process" inspection technology could account for as much as 25 percent of the time required to produce an additively manufactured engine component. However conducting those inspection procedures while the component is being built will eventually expedite production rates for GE's additive manufactured engine components.
By 2020, GE Aviation will produce more than 100,000 additive manufactured components for the LEAP(tm) and GE9X engines, in development for Boeing's new 777X plane. GE will install 19 additive manufactured fuel nozzles on every LEAP engine, which has amassed more than 4,500 orders.
Watch the video below to learn how additive manufacturing frees engineers to design the perfect jet engine.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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