Pratt & Whitney PW1500G Engines to Feature Additively Manufactured Parts

When Pratt & Whitney delivers its first production PurePower® PW1500G engines to Bombardier this year, these engines will be the first ever to feature entry-into-service jet engine parts produced using additive manufacturing.

While Pratt & Whitney has produced more than 100,000 prototype parts using additive manufacturing over the past 25 years – and hundreds more to support the PurePower Geared Turbofan™ engine family's development – the company will be the first to use additive manufacturing technology to produce compressor stators and synch ring brackets for the production engines. Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1500G engines exclusively power the Bombardier CSeries aircraft family.

Additive manufacturing, also called three-dimensional (3D) printing, builds parts and products one layer at a time by printers. In 3D printing, additive processes are used, in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control. These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry, and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source.

"Pratt & Whitney has been working with additive manufacturing since the 1980s, and we are looking forward to our upcoming milestone, when the first production PurePower PW1500G engines with parts produced through additive manufacturing will be delivered," said Tom Prete, Pratt & Whitney's Engineering vice president. "We are a vertically integrated additive manufacturing producer with our own metal powder source and the printers necessary to create parts using this innovative technology. As a technology leader, we are intrigued by the potential of additive manufacturing to support our suite of technologies and benefits to customers and the global aerospace industry."

"Additive manufacturing offers significant benefits to the production of jet engines," said Lynn Gambill, chief engineer, Manufacturing Engineering and Global Services at Pratt & Whitney. "We have engine tested components produced through additive manufacturing in the PW1500G."

In production tests, Pratt & Whitney has realized up to 15 months lead-time savings compared to conventional manufacturing processes and up to 50 percent weight reduction in a single part. The PurePower engine family parts will be the first product produced using 3D printing powder bed additive manufacturing.

Related manufacturing technologies that will be used in the PurePower engine production include Metal Injection Molding, Electron Beam Melting and Laser Powder Bed Fusion (including Direct Metal Laser Sintering).

Pratt & Whitney and the University of Connecticut are also collaborating to advance additive manufacturing research and development. The Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center is the first of its kind in the Northeast region to work with metal powder bed technologies. With more than $4.5 million invested, the center will further advance Pratt & Whitney's additive manufacturing capabilities, while providing educational opportunities for the next generation of manufacturing engineers.

Picture 1: A Pratt & Whitney manufacturing engineer with a rapid prototype of a fitting for the PurePower® engine part made using the additive manufacturing Direct Metal Laser Sintering process using nickel alloy powder. This part is located on the external of the engine where it facilitates the passage of pressurized air into the engine interior.

Picture 2: Fuel Bypass Manifold - The picture represents the conventional design of the fuel bypass manifold from the PurePower® engine family. It was manufactured using the Electron Beam Melting process and titanium powder and is a part located on the external of the engine. An optimized version was designed, utilizing design freedom achieved by the additive manufacturing process, to remove weight & material and show the design potential of additive manufacturing. Photo: courtesy of Pratt & Whitney.

Picture 3: Gearbox Bracket - The PurePower® gearbox bracket was manufactured using Direct Metal Laser Sintering in nickel alloy.  Its purpose is to attach the gearbox to the diffuser case.  The bracket was made to mimic the conventionally machine bill-of-material part and then later optimized to reduce weight and volume using design freedom achieved by additive manufacturing. Photo: courtesy of Pratt & Whitney.

Pictures 4&5: These images are from the Pratt & Whitney additive manufacturing lab at the University of Connecticut. The gentleman in these photo is Pratt & Whitney employee working at the lab.

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