Italy’s Avio Aero is experimenting with additive-repair technologies that could transform the company’s services business.

In conjunction with Bari Polytechnic in southern Italy, the company is exploring direct- and cold-deposition technologies that could be used to repair a wide range of complex metallic aerospace components. Scanners would map the component and would be able to locate areas of damage to be repaired. The technology could be applied to components produced through 3D-printing or through more traditional means such as casting.

“It’s an area of interest because there is a huge fleet out there which needs to be served,” Riccardo Procacci, Avio Aero’s president and CEO, told ShowNews on the eve of the Paris Air Show. “If you can find new ways of serving the fleet for repairs and be more productive, that’s the way you open a new market.”

The direct deposition works in a similar way to laser metal deposition, heating the material and the powder to join them together. But Procacci believes the cold deposition holds more promise: It fires the material at a very high speed into the component being repaired, generating a plastic deformation and joining the material together.

“Being colder than any other repair technology, you don’t heat up the part; you rebuild it without altering its properties or coatings,” added Procacci.

Avio Aero already has a limited services business providing MRO services for military engines, but Procacci says that while this is an important area of work, it is unlikely to expand.

“Services is a key growth strategy for Avio Aero,” added Procacci.

The General Electric-owned company is beginning to play a key role in GE’s additive-manufacturing future. Indeed, GE CEO David Joyce noted that Avio Aero and Italy would be at the “center of the growth of our additive ecosystem.”

Avio Aero’s facility at Cameri, near Milan, has been converted from an additive manufacturing technology center into an additive manufacturing plant producing fifth- and sixth-stage blades for the GE9X engine destined for the Boeing 777X family of aircraft.