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Leveraging Additive Manufacturing Tooling to Reduce the Cost of Turbine Engines

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Renaissance Services led a U.S. Air Force-sponsored program for low-cost tooling for castings with a specific emphasis on parts used in small turbine engines. The team consisted of foundries and small engine programs with a concentration on castings for rotating and non-rotating components and a variety of materials ranging from nickel-based alloys to steel and aluminum.

The program focused on multiple additive manufacturing (AM) tooling options for the optimal solution to address overall cost, lead time, and tooling life to meet specific engine program needs. The AM tooling approaches included 3D printing of ceramic molds, 3D printing of wax patterns and 3D printing of limited-life polymer injection dies.

Each AM tooling approach, using component designs from the OEMs, was produced to determine actual capabilities and performance. The tooling approaches were then evaluated by Renaissance engineers, the OEMs and the foundries to determine the viability for each to address specific product development, performance and production requirements.

This presentation will provide an overview of the AM tooling approaches, as well as results from using the AM tools with the participating OEMs and foundries. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the actual benefits of AM tooling for making small quantities of castings.
  • Understand the trade-offs associated with the usage of various AM materials for tooling.
  • Understand how the U.S. Air Force is looking to leverage AM tooling to reduce cost.