Recycling or reusing is usually the end-game of a completed process. But for StandardAero Military and Component Sector in Cincinnati, a proactive approach to cutting MRO waste is happening on the front end.
The facility, which specializes in repair development and custom solutions on a broad range of turbine engine components, has been turning to additive manufacturing for certain types of repairs. It eliminates the huge amount of waste generated by traditional subtractive manufacturing methods, says Tim Koch, senior manager of operational excellence.
“When you start with a block of metal to create a new part or repair an existing one, as much as 20-50% of the material you started with goes into the waste stream,” Koch explains. “With additive manufacturing, using 3-D printing, as little as 5-10% of the material is wasted, because you are using less material to start with.”
StandardAero’s Cincinnati facility began using additive manufacturing methods three to four years ago, initially to create a masking device to protect a portion of an engine shaft from a coating application. “It was designed to meet the customer’s very specific requirements for the coating of that component,” says Koch. “Without additive manufacturing, it would have been a tremendous challenge to complete the repair on that shaft, and it would have generated a lot of waste.” He adds that the device was totally reusable on a similar part for the same repair purpose.
Since then, says Koch, StandardAero has been using additive manufacturing to produce the tooling and fixturing used to support component repair. And while he notes that “it is still very new in aerospace applications,” it is proving its capability to support modeling, masking and fixturing in the component MRO process.
“Additive manufacturing is “a definite part of [our] roadmap, because it eliminates both business and environmental waste,” he says. “From a Six Sigma approach, we’re always looking to eliminate waste, and additive manufacturing allows us to move the value of the work we are doing to the point of use, internally. It’s definitely a game-changer.”
A version of this article appears in the December 1/8 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology.