GE will install the first additive manufactured (3D-printed) part on GEnx commercial airline engines.
The FAA has given "change of design" approval to replace the conventional power door opening system (PDOS) bracket with an additively manufactured bracket. The PDOS is used on GE Aviation's GEnx-2B engines found on the Boeing 747-8.
The part is used by maintenance staff to open and close the fan cowl doors to access the fan compartment.
The parts are printed in a cobalt-chrome alloy, which GE engineers chose over the traditional nickel-based superalloy to enable a faster build. The entire project was quick, and went from design to production in less than 10 months — a first for GE Aviation.
The new brackets will be mass produced (four printed at a time) at GE Aviation's facility in Auburn, Ala., on GE Additive Concept Laser M2 Multilaser machines.
When compared to previous parts, the brackets are 10 percent lighter and are manufactured with a 90 percent waste reduction from traditional milling. The new brackets will be shipped as soon as January 2019.
By bringing the bracket production in-house, GE Aviation also stands to reduce its production costs, although they did not provide a figure.