Flying True: Precision Quality Inspection for Jet Turbines

Making CMM Fixtures can be rather difficult because of the very demanding specification requirements for strength and accuracy. These fixtures often require extensive reiteration of minor cuts, from skimming to reaming, which drastically prolongs the operation times required to produce them.



The Breakdown:

CHALLENGE

Inspection fixtures require enormous time and cost to machine because they must be highly accurate, repeatable, and strong.

SOLUTION

Markforged 3D printers produce complex custom geometries for efficient, secure workholding of valuable low-volume parts.

RESULTS

JJC can design and test fixtures within the same week, with lower material waste and exceptional quality and precision.

  • Non-Marring Material

    With Onyx, turbine blades and other components do not get scratched and deemed defective as a result of inspection itself.

  • Hardware Integration

    Threaded inserts allow screws to apply higher force with lower deformation, and locating dowel pins can press fit into the printed part to aid positioning.

  • Minimal Deflection

    Continuous carbon fiber reinforcement along fixture jaws greatly reduces any workpiece deflection, thus ensuring accurate measurements.

Comparing the Numbers

Cost Time
Traditional $1,590.00 10 days
Markforged $330.00 3 days
Savings 80% 70%

Precision Quality Inspection

In order for aircraft to fly true, JJ Churchill (JJC) meticulously inspects every blade of its jet engine turbines. Their coordinate measurement machine (CMM) fixtures must maintain tight tolerances and deflect minimally in order to ensure a high level of accuracy. Markforged’s Onyx with continuous carbon fiber reinforcement is the only material that met their requirements of strength and stiffness at an affordable price. These printed parts exceeded all expectations held by JJC regarding part life on the shop floor. Manufacturing Engineer Karan Singh said, “once we realized the directional strength properties available with the Markforged products, we haven’t used anything else”.

Traditional manufacturing of CMM fixtures involves multiple roughing and refining operations, which underlie slow iteration and machining wait times. JJC engineers constantly seek innovative solutions to such bottlenecks. They turned to Markforged to achieve major advancements in processes and materials. Combining custom additive manufacturing with off-the-shelf parts enables streamlined production and improved functionality.