3D printing is being used by a wide range of engineering firms to solve issues they experience. From custom jigs to tooling and prototyping to mock-ups, the applications are endless. KLM Engine, the arm responsible for the repair and overhaul of jet engines from KLM and customers, have been using 3D printing in such a way themselves. They make use of additive manufacturing to make customised production tools.
One such production tool is a 3D printed protection screen. During the overhaul and repair of jet engines, there are parts that need polishing and coating. The non-coated areas of parts are protected by a special heat resistant tape. This needs removing to overhaul parts, but the tape sticks down well. Removing it is a manual job and very time-consuming, not to mention laborious for the engineer. After the old tape is removed new tape is added so the engine can return to service.
KLM Engine wanted to eliminate the need for tape from their repair and overhaul process to increase efficiency and reduce service times. The idea to introduce 3D printing as a potential solution came following research into the technology. They wanted to manufacture a protection screen which could be used in place of tape and 3D printing provided them with the flexibility they needed to iterate designs.
To manufacture their protection screen, they chose the Builder Extreme 1500, an industrial-grade 3D printer designed for engineering applications. With a 1100mm x 500mm x 820mm (XYZ) build volume it offered all the build space they needed and was capable of printing in their chosen high-performance heat resistant polymer. The Builder Extreme 1500 can print PET, PLA, PVA support material, flexible filament and special filaments like Woodfill and Bronzefill.
They started by scanning the original part of the engine so it could be digitised in CAD software. The part was then edited in CAD and drawn up before being sliced. The sliced file was then sent to print on the Builder Extreme 1500. The negative model of the area the coating spray was not allowed to reach was installed with optimal results. It perfectly fitted the original part and eliminated the need for tape. The part can be removed quickly when it comes time to service the engine or repair it again. And if the part sustains damage for whatever reason, printing a replacement part takes no more than a few days.
This has resulted in an 80% reduction in preparation time and costs. The engineers are also delighted they no longer have to pull tape away from parts manually (but of course). The 3D printed protection screen is used to shield parts and works faultlessly. The team are now looking into new applications for 3D printing to further reduce preparation time and costs when servicing jet engines.
The Builder Extreme 1500, with its 1100 x 500 x 820 mm (XYZ) build volume and fully enclosed chamber, offers the perfect environment for manufacturing long prototypes and models as one piece. Forget snap-fit models and gluing smaller parts together; with the Extreme 1500 you can print models in one go with perfect accuracy and speed. The fully enclosed build chamber provides a stable environment for the extrusion and layering process, while a unique dual-feed extruder system allows you to print support and primary material at the same time.
3D printer: Builder Extreme 1500
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