Additive Manufacturing in Commercial Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO)
450 words, 3 minute read
Many of you may have seen versions of my "MRO & Additive: Key Players, Trends, Current & Future State" presentation, as I've shared it proudly over the past 2 years (if you haven't, you will have an opportunity soon). Prior to joining Arcam (now GE Additive) in early 2016, I spent several years working in the MRO industry, with time on-site at Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg, Germany, and with Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix, Arizona.
And from day one with Arcam, I was determined to share the possibilities of additive manufacturing (AM) in this space. It's exciting to see an increasing interest level.
I gave a presentation in late 2016 on opportunities for AM in MRO. I made it about half way through my presentation before I was ushered to move on; my audience didn't see or appreciate my 'avant-garde' vision...Upsetting? Yes. But I was okay with it, and it wouldn't be the last time I brought up the topic, which eventually paid off. Several months later I found myself working with a group of analysts discussing just this, and since, I've seen (and shared) several success stories of AM making its way into the MRO arena, and you likely have too: Moog & ST Aerospace, MRO Network, the recent Oerlikon & LHT partnership, and one of several articles on activity at Etihad Airways Engineering.
The MRO segment of the aviation industry is a segment that has a tremendous opportunity to benefit from the flexibility and speed of AM (and more). It allows the ability to quickly and cost effectively produce a custom (or sunset) tool to speed an unexpected repair, and the ability to produce parts on demand instead of maintaining decades of inventory based on models and estimation. Soon, used-serviceable material will no longer be the top "go-to" for creative sourcing solutions for airlines.
Bear in mind, there is a learning curve; how parts are repaired is different from how parts are manufactured. This goes far beyond just knowing the economics of choosing between an overhauled part vs. a new part in an engine shop visit, for example.
Stay tuned for more in this space from me in the near future. And in the meantime, if you're interested in learning more about AM or Commercial Aviation MRO, send me an email. I love to chat about both topics.
As always, I welcome any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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