Optomec to Develop Production Recipes for U.S. Air Force Metal-Additive Repairs

June 21, 2021

The U.S. Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force base has awarded Optomec a $500,000 process-development contract for repair via additive manufacturing (AM) of jet engine components used in F-15 and F-16 fighters. The effort will focus on developing optimized process parameters and procedures to enable AM repair of turbine blades, made from both titanium and nickel-base superalloys, and rely on Optomec’s Lens technology. Lens is a metal-AM technique based on powder-fed directed energy deposition (DED), and ties in proprietary enabling machine capabilities including advanced vision and distortion-compensation software, controlled-atmosphere processing, and batch automation using oxygen-free material handling.

The contract calls for development of printable recipes and libraries, in conjunction with the delivery of an automated turbine-blade-repair machine. The program has a projected ROI of 184 percent, with a payback period of less than 2 years, according to Optomec and Air Force officials, and could save that service branch millions of dollars as it maintains a fleet of more than 5000 aircraft with an average age of 28 years. 

Optomec’s AM-repair processes currently are used in high-volume production for other turbine-engine parts worldwide, reportedly having repaired more than 10 million components over the last 20 years..

“The turbine industry already has adopted Optomec’s automated DED solution for high-volume nickel-alloy repair of aviation parts; meanwhile, we have worked out the process recipes for titanium repair,” says Jamie Hanson, Optomec vice president of business development. “This solution essentially takes our titanium-repair process to high-volume levels where it will have a major impact on lowering maintenance costs as engine OEMs use more and more titanium.”

Industry-Related Terms: Directed energy deposition
View Glossary of 3D Metal Printing Terms

 

See also: Optomec Inc.

Technologies: Applications

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