News | September 8, 2022

Optomec And Acme Manufacturing Showcase The Industry's First Fully Automated Work Cell For The Additive Repair Of Turbine Parts


Optomec Inc., a leader in 3D metal additive manufacturing (AM) solutions and Acme Manufacturing, the global leader of robotic material removal systems, will showcase an industry first, fully automated work cell initially optimized for repairing aviation compressor blades made of titanium. The turnkey work cell is the product of a two-year collaboration between the companies working with input from commercial maintenance repair & overhaul (MRO) and US DoD repair centers for aircraft engines. The automated work cell has a repair capacity of 85,000 titanium compressor blades per year and provides a compelling ROI when compared to traditional CNC machines and manual TIG welding. Technologies used in the automated work cell, are commercially available today and have been certified by civil aviation authorities around the world. These machines can be seen at the IMTS show in Chicago, Illinois September 12th-17th at Optomec booth #433130 and Acme Manufacturing booth #237433.

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Acme Aerospace Blade Repair System and Optomec CS250 TBR Atmosphere Controlled 5 axis system (Photo: Business Wire)

Acme Aerospace Blade Repair System and Optomec CS250 TBR Atmosphere Controlled 5 axis system (Photo: Business Wire)

The entry level work cell consists of three stations that enable blade tip grinding, 3D additive laser cladding and post clad finishing. The cell also includes an automated pallet load/unload station, a unique pallet flipping station, and a robotic material handling system. Each machine in the work cell is capable of automatically adjusting tool paths to accommodate blade-to-blade variations resulting from normal wear and distortion during service. The Optomec CS-250 5-axis laser cladding machine will be used to produce high quality, high yield precision welds for titanium compressor blades utilizing proprietary LENS Directed Energy Deposition (DED) and AutoCLAD advanced vision and adaptive tool-pathing technology in a controlled argon atmosphere. The Acme Manufacturing MRO blade tip repair machines can be configured for blade tip grinding, weld blending, and polishing. The system is equipped with the first of its kind auto path generation, that allows for a high mix, low volume environment. This new technology is 3X to 4X faster than traditional CNC machines.

Working in tandem, the systems in the work cell provide a productive real-world implementation of Industry 4.0 and digital thread concepts.

Jamie Hanson, VP of Business Development at Optomec, stated, “Our collaboration with Acme Manufacturing has brought together complementary technologies that provide a compelling business case for customers. Demanding repair requirements, driven by commercial and DoD repair centers, has led Optomec to enhance our DED capabilities to enable high volume, high yield repair for compressor blades, an especially challenging objective for titanium parts.”

“Acme has delivered over 200 robotic material removal systems to the aerospace industry in the past 35 years largely for new part manufacturing. By utilizing efficient and repeatable robotic finishing technology, we will be able to enable MRO engine repair centers to improve overall component quality and help lower unit costs. I am excited about our teams’ developments in auto path generation, which allows us to enter a new market of automated material removal systems,” stated G.A. “Fritz” Carlson III, President & CEO of Acme Manufacturing.

About Acme Manufacturing

Acme Manufacturing is one the earliest pioneers in material removal automation. Since 1910, the company has remained family owned and operated by four generations of the Carlson family. The family has brought a steady sequence of innovations to over 20 industries on a global scale. Acme engineers’ cost-effective material removal systems and process solutions to meet complex finishing requirements. Acme has produced over 3700 robotic systems. In addition, Acme is known for their full line of coated abrasive belt centerless grinding systems, ideal for O.D. grinding of bar and tube materials.

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About Optomec

Optomec is a privately held, rapidly growing supplier of additive manufacturing systems. The Optomec LENS and Huffman brand 3D printers for metal component production and repair, are used by the aerospace industry to reduce product cost and improve performance. Optomec has delivered more than 500 of its proprietary additive manufacturing systems to more than 200 marquee customers around the world.

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