Pratt & Whitney 3D prints aero-engine MRO component with ST Engineering

Pratt & Whitney is set to introduce a 3D printed aero-engine component into its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations by mid-2020 after a successful collaboration with ST Engineering.

The two companies came together to leverage 3D printing technology to facilitate faster and more flexible repair solutions, with contributions also coming from Pratt & Whitney’s repair specialist Component Aerospace Singapore.

Component Aerospace Singapore provides engine part repair for combustion chambers, fuel systems and manifolds; ST Engineering boasts ‘production-level 3D capabilities’ and experience applying 3D printing in land transport systems; and Pratt & Whitney is a specialist in design and engineering.

Pooling together this expertise, the companies have additively manufactured a part that will first be used in a fuel system component on a Pratt & Whitney engine model. They worked side by side to review and complete the technical dataset underpinning the use of the part in accordance with existing aviation regulations and also ensured it met Pratt & Whitney’s own aftermarket quality requirements. The resulting 3D printed part is said to offer ‘an added advantage of reducing dependency on current material supply from conventional fabrication processes’ and demonstrated the ability to produce parts on-demand.

This, the companies believe, proves additive manufacturing could have a ‘transformative’ impact on the MRO sector at large.

“3D printing will be a game-changer for the MRO industry worldwide, especially in servicing even more commercial engines,” commented Chin-Huat Sia, Principal Engineer, Component Aerospace Singapore. “This technology enables greater flexibility in our inventory management. Following this trailblazing initiative, both Pratt & Whitney and ST Engineering will examine how additive manufacturing can be applied for other aviation components and other engine types, and further developed to enable hybrid repairs and realise the full potential of 3D printing for commercial aftermarket operations.”

“Thanks to the out-of-the-box thinking by our employees at Component Aerospace Singapore, we are now another step closer to scaling the technology to meet our growing aftermarket operations, and industrialising 3D printing for the industry,” added Brendon McWilliam, Executive Director, Aftermarket Operations, Asia Pacific. “This ground-breaking innovation is part of the wider technology roadmap by Pratt & Whitney to introduce advanced technologies that integrate artificial intelligence, robotics and automation across our operations as part of our digital transformation.”

“To 3D print an aero-engine component for a working air turbine engine is a first for us,” offered Tan Chor Kiat, ST Engineering’s Senior VP of Kinetics Design & Manufacturing. “This also demonstrates our advanced capability to offer a full turnkey manufacturing solution which not only includes production-level 3D printing, but also post processes such as heat treatment and machining.”

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