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70% Weight Reduction

As a part of the GE bracket challenge, Frustum cut a critical aircraft bracket weight by 70% while meeting all functional requirements

The Challenge

Today’s aerospace designers are constantly seeking to balance part strength, durability and weight reduction. GE's aviation division, the world's largest supplier of jet engines, challenged entrepreneurs, companies and institutions to show how 3D printing could revolutionize part manufacturing. The 3D Printing Design Quest focused on an aircraft jet loading engine bracket, critical to vehicle safety.

GE asked participants to "completely reimagine" the bracket, which supports critical jet engine components during handling, and make it 30 percent lighter, while maintaining strength and durability. The specific part needed to meet specific load conditions without bending or warping.

Strategic Solution

Frustum partnered with 3D Systems’ On-Demand Parts Manufacturing service to create a part that reduced the weight of an aircraft bracket while simultaneously maintaining the integrity and strength needed to meet all functional requirements. Frustum’s functional generative design software, Generate, was able to do the heavy lifting in tackling the critical weight vs. stress issues. Its unique geometry kernel was able to take into consideration the spatial volume allowed, load conditions, and maximum stresses allowed in the material, and automatically produce the optimized designs for additive manufacturing.

Generate automatically optimized geometries in the existing CAD file GE provided. It modeled the material structure against the design features needed to design an optimally stiff and lightweight structure with smooth and blended surfaces that reduced the weight and minimized the stress concentrations.

Results

Frustum and 3D systems were able to reduce material needed for the bracket, yet maintain it’s structural integrity, meeting all design requirements. The net result was a functional bracket that weighed 70% less than the original design. GE estimates the practical impact of reducing one pound per aircraft translates into nearly $10 million in annual fuel savings across its entire fleet, annually.

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