Optomec to Develop Additive Repair Process for USAF Aircraft Engine Parts

The United States Air Force (USAF) awarded a contract to Optomec to develop an additive repair process for oversized titanium components in aircraft engines.

The components are used on USAF aircraft including the F22 Raptor and F35 Lightning II.

Under the $1.5 million contract, Optomec will develop a metal additive manufacturing system, which will help repair the parts.

Integral blade rotors (IBR), also known as blisks, are one-piece compressor rotors that are often damaged or worn out during normal use.

The cost to replace each of the lightweight titanium alloy blisks can be more than $500,000, the company noted.

Using Optomec’s additive repair process, the USAF is expected to save more than 80% of the total repair cost, including tens of millions of dollars in annual investment.

The contract will see Optomec deliver and install a five-axis LENS/DED metal printer, along with a 5ft x 5ft x 3ft work envelope, which can handle blisks up to 46 inches in diameter.

Additionally, the system includes a proprietary gas purification system, which is required during titanium deposition to ensure superior metallurgical properties.

The gas purification system can maintain a humidity-free environment (

The company will examine the effectiveness of different process monitoring techniques. The techniques are used to track key variables, which serve as a metric for quality assurance and verification.

The project will also showcase feasible repairs for large blisks, as well as restoration of foreign object damage (FOD) and representative wear in multiple areas of individual blades.

Optomec will also repair various sections of an aircraft’s full-scale blisk for rotational fit testing, which will be the first stage of qualification.

Optomec Vice President of Business Development, Jamie Hanson, said: “Optomec is uniquely positioned to provide production solutions to this growing need, based on its proprietary capabilities in machinery, software and processes, combined with its current market leading position providing machinery for the production repair of individual turbine blades.

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