Adaptive Production Technology for More Efficient Jet Engines


Utilization of a clamping and stabilizing system for process-stable finish milling of a multi blir. (Source: Fh.-IPT)


Air traffic is set to grow just as drastically in the future as it is now, so jet engines need to become more efficient. But the engineers designing these engines must give priority to the question of how to make manufacture and repair of these components cost-effective. From June 15 to 21, 2015, Aachen-based Fraunhofer researchers will be at the International Paris Air Show to present a multistage blisk that was manufactured by utilizing a new adaptive process chain. This gives component designers more flexibility while improving manufacturing and MRO processes.

Forecasts suggest that as the global population grows, the number of aircraft will double to 37,000 by 2032. Meanwhile, global climate-protection targets are increasing the pressure to innovate: jets ought to burn less kerosene and emit less pollution on the way to their destination. This means it is up to jet engine manufacturers above all to offer even more efficient, lower-emission engines at prices the market can afford.

New adaptive process chains

Future process chains must therefore be flexible and versatile. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT and the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have developed a comprehensive process chain for manufacturing and repairing turbomachinery components.

A clamping system for optimum cutting speeds and surface qualities

They take the example of the process chain for manufacturing a multistage blisk from the raw forging to final machining. Making the process chain flexible means it can also be used to repair the component. To this end, they developed a new, adjustable clamping system for referencing components and stabilizing blades. Not only does this make it possible to mechanically process thin-walled components at even higher cutting speeds with the desired surface quality, but the clamping system also serves as a reference for repairs using Laser Material Deposition LMD. At the International Paris Air Show, Fraunhofer ILT and Fraunhofer IPT will be presenting a variety of different exhibits from the manufacturing and repair process chains for blisks.

Development of the CAx Framework was one important step along the way to a comprehensive process chain. This software makes it possible to control all the various manufacturing and repair technologies from a single software platform. CAx stands for computer-aided x, with x” standing in for the individual production technologies. When repairing a defective blade, the first step is to measure it thoroughly. A milling machine processes the defect, then the blade is built back up, layer by layer, using LMD.

This research work forms a sub-project within the “AdaM – adaptive production for resource efficiency in energy and mobility” innovation cluster, which pools the expertise of Fraunhofer IPT and Fraunhofer ILT along with 21 industry partners. The aim is to implement the technology for new turbomachinery concepts, including jet engines, such that they use energy more efficiently. A further aim is to reduce CO2 emissions and use resources more sparingly. (Source: Fh.-IPT)


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