GE and US Air Force reach milestone in Pacer Edge programme

November 17, 2021

Bellcrank and cross shaft arm, additively manufactured in colbalt-chrome on a GE Additive M2 Series 5 machine (Courtesy GE Additive)

Building on the earlier success and momentum of the Pacer Edge programme, GE Additive and the US Air Force (USAF) entered Phase III of its metal Additive Manufacturing pathfinder. This phase aims to tackle the USAF’s sustainment ‘cold starts’ (aircraft engine components that take over 300 days to procure) head-on. Currently, the organisation faces approximately 800 cold starts each year.

“The first priority for the USAF and GE team has been to create digital 3D technical data packages (TDPs) for hard-to-procure, obsolete cold start parts and deliver four airworthy, near-net castings. These TDPs will eventually mean that part obsolescence will be a thing of the past,” stated Alexa Polites, USAF Pacer Edge programme manager, GE Additive.

Over the coming years, the joint team intends to create at least five TDPs, increasing in technical complexity, across the USAF’s sustainment platforms.

“The teaming of GE and the USAF legitimises utilisation of Additive Manufacturing to address critical needs of the aging aircraft that are currently unsupported within the existing supply chain,” stated Zack Miller, Chief, Advanced Manufacturing Program Office, Air Force Rapid Sustainment Office.

Beth Dittmer, Chief, Propulsion Integration Division, Tinker Air Force Base (AFB), Oklahoma, added, “Pacer Edge is accelerating the USAF’s widespread adoption of 3D metal printing to organically solve supply chain shortages and realising its promise to improve warfighter support by drastically reducing lead times and creating additional sourcing options.”

Phase III is reported to have already resulted in two successfully additively manufactured components: a bellcrank and a cross shaft arm (pictured above). These were manufactured in cobalt-chrome on a Concept Laser M2 Series 5 GE Additive‘s Cincinnati, Ohio. Progress has also been made on additional components using Alloy 718.

The cornerstone goal of the Pacer Edge programme is the creation of organic capabilities at Tinker AFB. One way to achieve that is by ensuring that intellectual property generated within the programme is owned by the US Government, enabling the USAF and Department of Defense to additively manufacture these parts themselves in the future.

The programme remains on schedule with the goal of having airworthy production castings delivered to the USAF in Spring 2022.

GE is currently exhibiting at Formnext Hall 11.0, E12.

Download the latest issue of Metal AM magazine

Our latest issue is now available to view online or download in PDF format.

As well as an extensive AM industry news section, this 226-page issue includes articles and reports on:

  • Metal AM in hydraulics: Aidro’s Valeria Tirelli on opportunities, applications, and joining Desktop Metal
  • I want to break free: The journey towards reducing or eliminating support structures
  • Simufact Additive: Accelerating the Metal Binder Jetting workflow with sintering simulation
  • Metal powder characterisation for Additive Manufacturing: Beyond state-of-the-art standards
  • A look at the future: What does the next decade hold for metal Additive Manufacturing?
  • Reducing residual stress with 500°C build chamber preheating for ‘first time right’ PBF-LB
  • Separating metal AM parts from the build plate – an underestimated challenge
  • How X-ray Computed Tomography is helping an AM service bureau to improve predictive-model based qualification
  • > More information

Latest news


    Sign up to our e-newsletter, sent weekly to AM professionals and end-users around the world. We'll also let you know each time a new issue of Metal AM magazine is available.

    Discover our magazine archive…

    The free to access Metal Additive Manufacturing magazine archive offers unparalleled insight into the world of metal Additive Manufacturing from a commercial and technological perspective through:
    • Reports on visits to leading metal AM part manufacturers and industry suppliers
    • Articles on technology and application trends
    • Information on materials developments
    • Reviews of key technical presentations from the international conference circuit
    • International industry news
    All past issues are available to download in PDF format, in either single page format or as double-page “spreads” for viewing on large monitors. All downloads are free of charge. Go to archive...

    Connect with us

    Visit our social media channels and sign up to our e-newsletter

    Copy link
    Powered by Social Snap