Bordes, France - Helicopter engine manufacturer Turbomeca is setting up an additive manufacturing capability at its facility in Bordes. After years of maturation and prototype testing, the company has entered serial production of parts using additive manufacturing. The company's Bordes facility is one of the first of its kind to serially produce additive components for the aerospace propulsion industry in France.
Arrano test and production engines will feature fuel injector nozzles made using selective laser melting (SLM) techniques. This manufacturing process will also be used to manufacture Ardiden 3 combustor swirlers--engines that are the company's latest models and amongst the most advanced turboshafts ever designed.
Additive manufacturing produces parts to a three-dimensional (3D) computer-aided design (CAD) model. Unlike traditional manufacturing processes (forging and machining) that are based on material removal, additive manufacturing builds layers, each between 20 and 100µm 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.
Additive manufacturing also simplifies the manufacturing process. A traditional fuel-injector nozzle is made up from dozens of 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 the company's "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, the company should significantly improve its compressor and turbine blade manufacturing capabilities at its Bordes facility.