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AM used to repair over 10 million turbine blades

A recent survey of over one hundred of Optomec’s customers has revealed that its 3D metal printers have been used to refurbish over 10 million turbine blades.

According to the firm, it has metal additive repair machines installed at all leading gas turbine OEMs, in both the aviation market for aircraft engines and the energy market for power generation.

In addition, many third party maintenance repair and overhaul shops also use Optomec systems.

Common applications of the 3D metal printers include the repair of turbine blade tips, seals and wear surfaces; compressor blades, including titanium alloys; vanes, shrouds and other high value components.

Additive manufacturing can be used to reduce the cost of routine turbine maintenance dramatically, typically replacing manual operations such as tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding.   

Optomec’s laser cladding systems are approved for aviation maintenance in 15 countries. According to the firm, the return on investment of its machinery has recently been calculated to be in excess of 180 per cent.

‘We are really excited to reach this important milestone for both the additive manufacturing segment and, more importantly, for our gas turbine customers,’ said Mike Dean, marketing director at Optomec. ‘Chances are that if you fly much, you’ve probably flown with an engine that was maintained with an Optomec laser cladder.’  

The solutions used for turbine repair include Optomec’s Huffman brand five-axis laser cladders and its LENS brand metal additive 3D printers – both of which are based on directed energy deposition (DED) technology. The solutions offer proprietary vision and adaptive control software, controlled inert atmosphere processing for superior metallurgy, turn-key repair process recipes and automation solutions that enable higher throughput batch processing.

Optomec has delivered more than 200 LENS/DED machines to date, with nearly 100 being used in production to repair turbine blades in the commercial aviation and power generation markets.

Optomec receives air force contract to repair aircraft engines

The US Air Force has recently awarded Optomec a $1 million contract to deliver a high volume production machine for refurbishing turbine engine components, including titanium parts.

This automated additive repair system, based Optomec’s LENS technology, will be capable of processing tens of thousands of repairs per year, with an initial focus on tip refurbishment for turbine blades. 

Optomec will also assist the US Air Force in developing optimal process parameters for a range of target repairs.

The solution will be installed at Tinker Air Force Base, in Oklahoma City, which already hosts a world-class comprehensive aircraft engine overhaul capability.

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