The buzz of “additive manufacturing” is something we are all aware of; whether it be pondering the endless applications or trying to qualify printed parts, but what kind of impact can it have now? Under America Make’s Maturation for Low-cost Sustainment (MAMLS) program, a team from the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) travels to different Airforce Logistic Centers (ALC’s) with that question in mind. A family of fiberglass trim and drill fixtures from the 1960’s that have seen severe damage over the years were identified. Using commercially available 3D scanning and printing technology, a drill fixture with an entire corner and drill bushing missing was repaired with a 3D printed part, using 3D printed tooling and guides. Not only was the repair completed with a true position of 0.012” (with a goal of 0.050”), but the estimated ROI was over 40x. UDRI’s expertise in reverse engineering and additive manufacturing was applied to a different logistics center issue: paint masking of turbine engine gearbox housings and other components. After engines are disassembled, parts must be masked by hand for primer and paint. This process can take several hours for one part. Gearboxes from the TF33 engine platform were 3D scanned, and two-stage hard maskings were designed and printed for all flanges that need protection from primer and paint. With a monthly throughput of 20-30 gearboxes, this application is projected to cut masking time by 75%; saving the worker’s time and getting the aircraft back in the air faster.
- Have new ideas for applications for 3D printing.
- Think critically about additive design.
- Demonstrate more practical applications of 3D printed parts, jigs, and fixtures.