Pratt & Whitney trials additive manufacturing

  • August 7, 2022
  • William Payne

Aerospace firm Pratt & Whitney is evaluating Velo3D’s Sapphire metal 3D printer for manufacturing production jet engine components inhouse. Pratt & Whitney has previously used Velo3D’s contract manufacturing network to source printed and finished jet engine parts.

Pratt & Whitney and parent company Raytheon Technologies are experienced users of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies. Both companies have gained extensive knowledge of AM across various platforms and applications.

Raytheon is a launch participant of President Biden’s AM Forward initiative, which encourages companies to use additive manufacturing to improve supply chains and parts sourcing. Over 50% of Raytheon’s tenders for additive manufactured parts includes SMEs. The company is also seeking to simplify and accelerate the procurement process of AM parts.

“Metal additive manufacturing can transform aviation and space systems by delivering unprecedented part consolidation, lighter weight components, and more efficient systems,” said Benny Buller, Velo3D Founder and CEO. “We’re pleased to see Pratt & Whitney move forward with their own Sapphire XC printer. We’re eager to see how they innovate their most mission critical designs using the end-to-end solution and how the economies of scale of an in-house system help increase addressable use-cases.”

“Pratt & Whitney looks forward to future applications using the Sapphire XC printer, and collaborations with other potential suppliers with the Velo3D capability, for Pratt & Whitney GTF and advanced engine programmes,” said Jesse Boyer, fellow, Additive Manufacturing, Pratt & Whitney.

The company’s new Sapphire XC printer is calibrated to print in Inconel 718, a nickel-based superalloy well-suited for extreme temperatures.

The Raytheon Technologies Research Centre is its central innovation hub where engineers, scientists and researchers develop new aerospace technologies. Research and development at the centre includes complex integrated systems, advanced materials and manufacturing, autonomy-enabling technologies, electrification, and sustainability.

This is made possible by Velo3D’s end-to-end solution, which includes Flow print preparation software, the Sapphire family of printers, Assure quality assurance software, and Intelligent Fusion underlying manufacturing processes. The system uses a set of known recipes to achieve the geometries desired without using supports and monitors the build process layer-by-layer to ensure the highest quality.