How Design for Additive Manufacturing Contributes to Site Productivity Savings

September 29, 2016 | Author: Alexandre Baudot

In the aerospace industry, every part needs to be as light and small as possible to save space and increase fuel efficiency. This is beneficial for the end product, which can be for an aircraft, a satellite or other aviation-related system. But it sometimes leads to a part assembly design that isn’t operator-friendly.

One recent example is a Honeywell compact valve, which left little access for the tool used during assembly (see photo). The tight clearance between bolt and valve body made it impossible to use a commercial ratchet wrench. The technician had to use a standard, combination open-box wrench, resulting in a time-consuming assembly/disassembly process – a factor that impacts site productivity.

Additive Manufacturing

Figure 1: Example of valve with limited space for the tool – commercial ratchet wrench can’t be used

Additive Manufacturing

Figure 2: Combination Open-Box wrench used instead of ratchet wrench

But what if an additive manufacturing design could create a customized ratchet wrench to fit the available assembly space?

That’s the challenge the Honeywell’s Shanghai Additive Manufacturing team took on. Their goal was to develop a design specifically for additive manufacturing – also known as 3-D printing – technology so the ratchet wrench could be 100 percent printed without requiring any assembly.

The team faced two key challenges: First, design the part for AM while keeping the spring function within the part. Second, find the right printing orientation and parameters so that no support inside the parts was needed and all required support was accessible and easy to remove.

In less than four weeks, the team developed an innovative design, printed samples, optimized printing parameters and orientation and delivered the final part. Now the tool is providing 50 percent productivity savings to the production site.

The resulting design also is easily scalable to different applications, regardless of bolt type, length requirement and handle shapes. That will minimize further design time.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing

Figure 3: New AM ratchet wrench implemented with productivity saving

It’s just one example of how the Honeywell Additive Manufacturing team is contributing to site savings. Over the past six months, similar projects for fixtures and tooling also have helped increase productivity and the team continues to look for more ways additive manufacturing can make a difference at Honeywell sites.

Alexandre Baudot

Alexandre Baudot

Alexandre Baudot is the Shanghai Additive Manufacturing Program Manager.