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Phillips Federal News

Tinker Air Force Base Creates and Tests First Additive Engine Component

An Air Force Sustainment Center Wing in Oklahoma City has successfully 3-D printed a metal ice-gasket for a TF33-P103 engine using an industrial additive manufacturing machine. This metal part is a critical achievement for the future sustainment of aircraft like the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System and the B-52 Stratofortress.

The OC-ALC utilized additive manufacturing to make a part for the TF33-P103 engine, a development intended to reduce downtime and improve readiness. A coordinated effort between the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group, the Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling Lab, and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Propulsion Sustainment Division created a 3-D printed hostile to ice gasket. The gasket is a fundamental piece of the TF33 motor, which controls the E-3, the B-52, and the E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System.

“This accomplishment is truly a historical first,” said Johnny Tsiao, AFLCMC propulsion structural competency lead. “This is a digitally designed and digitally engineered component that represents a substantial milestone in Air Force sustainment. Although it is a basic component, the technology our OC-ALC team has developed will help resolve supply chain issues and help bring further capacities to support the warfighter.”

The OC-ALC workforce saw that the distributed direction guided support staff to dispose of the gaskets, substantially expanding demand to order the part and resulting in a shortage.

“One of the things we found in this collaboration is that we could potentially solve the supply shortage by reengineering and printing something and prove it was safe to fly,” said Richard Banks, 76th PMXG delegated engineering authority engineer. “This type of engineering makes it easier to source materials, greatly reduces lead time, and ultimately helps to reduce logistical and supply issues.”

Currently, the REACT lab has built and printed 30 anti-ice gaskets. Individuals from the 76th PMXG successfully hosted a trial this month. Compared to other trials, the new anti-gasket manufacturing methods significantly decrease downtime from 120-136 days to 14-21 days.

OC-ALC engineers state they are hopeful about future 3D-printing and its utilization in improving the Air Force sustainment process.

“We’ve implemented a crawl, walk and run approach when it comes to additive manufacturing,” said Tsiao. “We haven’t had a 3D printed metal component in Air Force engines before, but in the next 12-24 months, this technology will open the door to more complex and critical components that help to improve our sustainment efforts moving forward.”

Air Force Command continues to promote Airmen innovate new ideas and parts for the DoD with additive manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing is creating new capabilities and products that are not possible through traditional machining and positively disrupting the traditional supply chain. Many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are already improving readiness through the use of AM and concurrently increasing the performance of their systems.

Phillips Federal offers a variety of additive manufacturing technologies and we stand ready to be your critical provider of all things additive. Our Additive Team will help you realize the incredible value of AM, from increased readiness to improved capability, survivability, and agility for the warfighter.

Original Article By 2Lt. Danny Rangel, 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs / Published July 31, 2020

(Source/Images: Tinker AFB)

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