• Joe Breitfeller

Pratt & Whitney Announces First MRO 3D Printing of Aero Engine Component

Updated: Sep 4, 2020

From the Singapore Airshow Wednesday, Pratt and Whitney announced the first-in-MRO application of 3D printing for an aero-engine component. The potentially game-changing process was accomplished in coordination with ST Engineering.

Pratt & Whitney Announces First-in-MRO 3D Printing for Aero-Engine Component - Courtesy Pratt & Whitney

Last Wednesday (February 12, 2020) Pratt & Whitney announced that for the first time an aero-engine part had been 3D printed in what could become a game-changer for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry. To leverage production level additive manufacturing, Pratt & Whitney has collaborated with ST Engineering and the first 3D printed part is expected to become part of the repair process by mid-2020. Component Aerospace Singapore (Pratt & Whitney’s repair specialist in Singapore) will be the first MRO to utilize a 3D printed part in aero-engine repair. The first part will be used in the in a fuel system component on one of Pratt & Whitney’s engine models and the alternative material solution provided by 3D printing capabilities will help reduce dependency on traditional manufacturing processes such as casting and forging parts. In Wednesday’s announcement, Pratt & Whitney’s Executive Director – Aftermarket Operations, Asia-Pacific, Brendon McWilliam said,

“Thanks to the out-of-the-box thinking by our employees at Component Aerospace Singapore, we are now another step closer to scaling the technology to meet our growing aftermarket operations, and industrializing 3D printing for the industry. This groundbreaking innovation is part of the wider technology roadmap by Pratt & Whitney to introduce advanced technologies that integrate artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation across our operations as part of our digital transformation. We are well-placed to better meet today’s demands and anticipate tomorrow’s customer needs, without compromising our high standards of quality and reliability.”

The idea of additive manufacturing, including 3D printing, is to create the capability of producing complex parts on demand for real-time quantity needs. Also commenting on Wednesday’s announcement, Component Aerospace Singapore’s Principal Engineer, Chin-Huat Sia said,

“3D printing will be a game-changer for the MRO industry worldwide, especially in servicing even more commercial engines. T his technology enables greater flexibility in our inventory management. Following this trailblazing initiative, both Pratt & Whitney and ST Engineering will examine how additive manufacturing can be applied for other aviation components and other engine types, and further developed to enable hybrid repairs and realize the full potential of 3D printing for commercial aftermarket operations.”

Both Pratt & Whitney and ST Engineering worked closely to ensure the in-house quality and systems in the 3D production process meets Pratt &Whitney’s exacting standards for aftermarket parts. Additionally, all stakeholders rigorously reviewed data related to the use of 3D-printed metallic detail in repair, while exploring the requirements and limitations of existing aviation regulations, as well as the capabilities of ST Engineering’s 3D printers. Further commenting on the potential of 3D parts printing in the MRO industry, ST Engineering’s SVP – Kinetics Design & Manufacturing, Tan Chor Kiat added,

“To 3D print an aero-engine component for a working air turbine engine is a first for us. This also demonstrates our advanced capability to offer a full turnkey manufacturing solution which not only includes production-level 3D printing, but also processes such as heat treatment and machining. Our customers expect high standards of quality from us. For this project, we are able to deliver an aerospace component that meets not only the high quality standards required, but also the stringent requirements by the aviation authorities.”

Pratt & Whitney’s Component Aerospace Singapore specializes in engine part repair for combustion chambers, fuel system components, tubes, ducts and manifold for the company’s V2500 and PW4000 engines. The PW4000 powers some Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 model aircraft. A division of United Technologies Corp (NYSE: UTX), Pratt & Whitney is a global leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft and helicopter engines and auxiliary power units (APUs).

Source: Pratt & Whitney