Ingersoll Machine Tools, Inc. and Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. company, have announced that they have completed a collaborative effort utilizing a large format 3D Printer to successfully manufacture 22-foot-long vacuum trim tool for production of main rotor blade components.
The effort utilized Ingersoll’s hybrid large format MasterPrint gantry type 3D printer and 5-axis milling machine housed at Ingersoll’s headquarters facility in Rockford, IL.
Chip Storie, CEO at Ingersoll said:
“We are continuously testing and advancing MasterPrint™ in our Development Center. Among Ingersoll’s short-term objectives is for MasterPrint™ to 3D-print molds for aerospace that preserve the geometrical properties and tolerances, vacuum integrity and autoclave resilience normally obtained with traditional technology, but with the cost and time reduction only additive manufacturing can offer. The relentless progress our MasterPrint process has made in 2020 has finally made this target attainable”.
This production tooling effort 3D printed 1,150 pounds of ABS material with 20% chopped carbon fiber fill. The printing process was completed as a single part in a continuous 75-hour operation. After printing, the mold surfaces and tooling location features were machined to finished dimensions by exchanging the print module for the 5-Axis milling head which is changeable on the MasterPrint™ machine. The machining was completed in one week and the final part achieved full vacuum tightness. The Ingersoll machine utilizes the Siemens 840D CNC control system for controlling both the machining and the 3D printing.
Critical time savings was achieved through the 3D print fabrication and efficient 5-axis machining operations. The additive and subtractive manufacturing processes were seamlessly co-engineered in the native CAD software format. The traditional build cycle for a typical mold in aluminum such as this using standard methods is typically 4 to 5 months. This manufacturing process was completed in a matter of weeks.
Industries: Renewable Energy