Aerospace 3D Printing comes to Pratt & Whitney
EAST HARTFORD — For decades, aerospace manufacturers like Pratt & Whitney have fabricated engine parts by tooling, lathing, milling and forging.
Now, they’re printing.
Unlike that laser printer in your office, there is no toner, no paper and no “PC LOAD LETTER” errors.
Instead of ink, these printers — called 3-D printers — use lasers to heat granules of plastic or metal to build up three-dimensional parts, layer by layer. The end product could be any solid design, however complex.
Aerospace manufacturers like Pratt & Whitney and GE Aviation are extending the limits of this technology to make production-run parts for their latest commercial engines. This process is letting manufacturers design components that would have been impossible to mill or forge in yesterday’s aerospace factories, while saving money and, in some cases, making parts lighter.
Pratt, the engine division of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp., put more than two dozen 3-D-printed components on its latest quiet and fuel-efficient PurePower geared turbofan engine, said Thomas Prete, the company’s head of engineering. “We’ve contemplated lots of parts and continue to add to the list.”
Pratt’s main competitor, GE Aviation, is using 3-D printing to make complex fuel nozzles for an engine.
For more, read Brian Dowling’s entire article at the Hartford Courant.