Safran Helicopter Engines has started its first automated production line dedicated to turbine blade manufacturing, the French company announced today. The new line at its Bordes plant can now manufacture turbine blades in half the time it previously took the company.
Initiated in 2012 as part of its “factory of the future” strategy, the new production line features several robots and automated cells capable of performing every process—milling, polishing, etching, 3D control and surface finishing—from raw material to finished, ready-to-assemble turbine airfoils. Operators have been trained to adapt their skills to this new production line, which is capable of producing more than 100,000 airfoils a year to tolerances measured in microns.
Safran Helicopter Engines executive vice president of operations Laurent Mazoués said, “The automated and robotized production line will also greatly improve our competitiveness and manufacturing agility and contribute to a high level of customer satisfaction.” Philippe Darmayan, president of the Alliance Industrie du Futur, will officially christen the production line on December 6 during an “industry of the future” event.
Last year, Safran Helicopter Engines introduced the serial production of additive manufactured (3D printed) components in Bordes. Between now and 2020, other “lines of the future” will be introduced in Safran Helicopter Engines production facilities, the company said.