US Navy will Continue to Fund Development of New Repair Capability for High Value Integrally Bladed Rotors

Albuquerque, New Mexico, 20 May 2009: Optomec announced today that the company has received additional US Navy funding to continue the existing Small Business Innovative Research grant to develop a new repair capability for restoring aircraft engine integrally bladed rotors (IBRs, also known as blisks). Optomec’s proposal for additional funding was supported by Pratt & Whitney, the leading supplier of gas turbine engines to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Aircraft engines can be damaged by foreign objects entering the engine and hitting the fast spinning airfoils. Modern jet engines use IBRs, which are made using materials of the highest quality in order to improve efficiency while ensuring safety. To repair these components, material added to restore the damaged IBR airfoils must meet the same stringent property requirements as new components. During six years of development work, the LENS system has proven its ability over competing processes in IBR repair because it has been shown to be uniquely capable of producing material with the desired shape, structure and properties for this demanding application. In addition, the LENS process has demonstrated economic viability to repair IBRs that would otherwise cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace.

In the current project, the nickel-based superalloy that is used to manufacture the IBR is considered very difficult to weld, and typically suffers from extensive cracking when welded. However, these problems have been eliminated by using the LENS process. Dr. Richard Grylls, LENS Product Manager for Optomec states “The LENS technology has again shown that it is unequalled in its ability to process material with the highest quality, even when that material is considered very difficult to weld. The process control that is offered with the Optomec LENS system, combined with the complete atmosphere control and our metallurgical expertise, has enabled these outstanding results to be achieved.” The additional funding will be used to conduct mechanical property testing, and to continue to advance the technology readiness level of this repair. Click here to download the “LENS IBR/Blisk Repair Datasheet”

Optomec is the world leading provider of additive manufacturing systems for high-performance applications in the Aerospace & Defense, Electronics, and Biomedical markets. These systems utilize Optomec’s proprietary Aerosol Jet and LENS powder-metal fabrication technology. The company has a global customer base of industry-leading manufacturers.