Avio Aero, a GE Aviation business which designs, manufactures and maintains propulsion systems for civil and military aviation, will produce additively manufactured components for the General Electric Advanced TurboProp (ATP) engine at its plant in Brindisi, Italy. A number of Additive Manufacturing systems will be installed at the facility from 2018, with the components expected to go into production between end 2018 and beginning 2019.
Following Avio Aero’s plant in Cameri, Novara, Italy, which specialises in Electron Beam Melting (EBM) Additive Manufacturing, Brindisi is the company’s second plant to adopt an AM production process, and will specialise in Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM).
The ATP engine, developed as part of an all-European project led by the Centre of Excellence for Engine Development, Italy, is the first turboprop engine to include AM parts for business and general aviation use. Thirteen of the engine components ranging from the combustion chamber to various structural elements are to be produced by AM, reducing the total number of engine parts by 30%.
According to GE, the engine features an industry-best 16:1 overall pressure ratio, making it possible to achieve as much as 15% lower fuel burn and 10% higher cruise power compared to competitor offerings in the same size class, with better time between overhaul and class-leading performance retention.
The Italian Government has stated that it considers Additive Manufacturing one of the most important enabling technologies to address the aims and objectives pursued under the National Industry 4.0 Plan, launched at the end of 2017. As such, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development is reported to have taken action to support Avio Aero’s initiative in Brindisi as part of a broader investment project proposed by the company.
“Additive Manufacturing is one of the enabling technologies in which Avio Aero is investing,” stated Riccardo Procacci, Avio Aero Chairman and CEO. “It’s now more than 10 years since we built the first prototypes, and today at Cameri – and soon also at Brindisi – we are using this technology to produce extremely innovative and above all competitive aviation engine components.”
Avio Aero employs more than 4,200 people at its Italian headquarters and production plants. Founded in 1908, the company also operates a plant and test centre in Poland and has an established network of relationships with leading universities and international research centres.