Handheld Additive Manufacturing Technology for Structural Repairs

Handheld Additive Manufacturing Technology for Structural Repairs

The US Navy has an ongoing need for precise and effective methods for full dimensional, full-strength restoration of damaged aircraft components.  Damage can be caused by the installation, removal and handling of aircraft parts, as well as impact by foreign object debris. For smaller nicks, dings and dents, the goal is to restore the part to its original dimensions and structural capability.

Existing repair methods have shortcomings that include detrimental material effects, such as local material thinning, induced porosity, and residual stresses.  Additive manufacturing methods offer the advantages of process flexibility and the ability to fabricate a wide range of geometric structures. However, many of these existing methods may require expensive equipment and consumables, or specialized expertise for the operator.

Innovative Repair Tool Based on Additive Friction Stir Process

Creare has developed its Compact Repair System (CRS) to address these shortcomings.  Creare’s CRS uses an additive friction stir process to achieve intimate material bonding, high strength, and low-cost.  The additive friction stir process is a type of additive manufacturing that uses a consumable rotating element to produce joints or repairs in solid state (no melting). Creare’s CRS requires minimal training for the operator and has a small logistical tail. The additive friction stir process is a viable repair technology for ships and other critical military systems. It is effective for pinhole repair, corrosion repair, reinforcement and weld repair.

Demonstrated Success

We have successfully demonstrated the Compact Repair System for repairs on sample parts made of stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium alloy.  Linear defects, holes, edges, and corrosion damage have been successfully repaired.   In all cases, the strength of the repaired region exceeded that of the base material.  Currently, we are working with the US Navy to develop our novel technology for the reinforcement of piping and the repair of rotorcraft parts.