GE Additive and GE Aviation have announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given ‘change in design’ approval to replace a conventionally manufactured power door opening system (PDOS) bracket, used on GE Aviation’s GEnx-2B commercial airline engines that power the Boeing 747-8, with an additively manufactured bracket.
The new additively manufactured brackets will enter mass production at GE Aviation’s facility in Auburn, Alabama, using GE Additive Concept Laser M2 cusing Multilaser machines this month. GE Aviation anticipates the first GEnx engines installed with the new brackets will be shipped in January 2019.
The original PDOS brackets on the GEnx-2B engines were produced from a solid block of metal, using conventional methods such as milling. This technique resulted in around 50% of the material being wasted. Now using direct metal laser melting additive technology to manufacture the new brackets, waste has been reduced by as much as 90%. GE Aviation has also improved the design to reduce the bracket’s weight by 10%.
The decision to mass produce using a cobalt-chrome alloy over a traditional nickel-based superalloy has enabled a faster build. To make this approach as efficient as possible, four brackets will be printed at the same time.
Using a bespoke, interlocking design to house all four brackets on a single build plate, the Concept Laser M2 cusing machine’s pair of lasers can print an aircraft’s worth of brackets in one build, before post-processing and inspection.