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Turbomeca Unveils Additive Manufacturing Capability for Engine Parts

By Staff Writer | January 16, 2015


After years of maturation and prototype testing, helicopter engine manufacturer Turbomeca has entered serial production of parts using the latest additive manufacturing, or 3D printing process at its Bordes facility in France. The facility is one of the first of its kind to serial produce additive components for France’s aerospace propulsion industry.

Photo courtesy Turbomeca

Arrano test and production engines will feature fuel injector nozzles made using Selective Laser Melting (SLM) techniques. This leading-edge manufacturing process will also be used to manufacture Ardiden 3 combustor swirlers. These engines are Turbomeca’s latest models and amongst the most advanced turboshafts ever designed.

Additive manufacturing produces parts to a three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) model. Unlike the traditional manufacturing processes of forging and machining, which are based on material removal, additive manufacturing builds layers, each between 20 and 100-micrometers thick, of fine metal powder to produce complex-shape parts. In the case of SLM, a computer-controlled laser shoots pinpoint beams onto a bed of nickel-based super-alloy powder, to melt the metal in the desired areas.

Photo courtesy Turbomeca

Additive manufacturing also simplifies the manufacturing process. A traditional fuel-injector nozzle is made up from dozens different pieces. The Arrano component is made from one single piece of material and features advanced injection and cooling functions. One SLM machine is already in service and qualified for mass production, with others to be integrated over the coming years.

Additive manufacturing is part of Turbomeca’s ambitious “Future Line” program designed to improve all its manufacturing capabilities. By introducing new, high-end machine tools and new processes like additive manufacturing and High Velocity Oxy-Fuel (HVOF) coatings, Turbomeca will significantly improve its compressor and turbine blade manufacturing capabilities at Bordes.

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