The U.S Navy has invented a repositionable, sealed, liquid metal bushing that can be positioned at any angle. The patent-pending bushing is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it.
This invention consists of liquid metal potting bushings for fast and accurate alignment of new components through existing drill holes. These bushings are designed to be potted in a metalworking jig or fixture and can be accurately positioned and angled using alignment pins. The bushings are easy and quick (seconds vs. hours) and are repositionable, saving time and money in the lifecycle maintenance of aircraft, vehicles, industrial machinery, and other high-stress assets. The patented pending technology is available via patent license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.
Military aircraft are maintained and upgraded under service life extension programs (SLEP) that replace high stress/fatigue flight control surfaces such as for ailerons and trailing edge flaps at scheduled intervals. Currently, the Navy’s process for replacing flight surface hinges on its 4,000 F/A-18 Hornets is slow and expensive owing to a process that is almost artisanal. This process deploys slow-drying white gypsum cement as a potting compound to fasten drill bushings in a jig for drilling holes in new components that align with existing holes in an aircraft. This cement takes hours to dry, is nearly impossible to apply upside down, and is not re-positionable without being chipped and ground out of the jig and starting the process over.
To address this problem, scientists and engineers at the Naval Air Warfare Center’s Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, New Jersey, have developed and implemented a self-contained, quick-set potting bushing where the potting compound liquefies at 140 degrees Fahrenheit and quickly sets, supporting a drill bushing at the accurate position and angle set by an alignment pin. Because the bushings can be re-heated, an alignment pin can be repositioned without having to remove the bushings or potting compound from the jig. By extension, the same jig and bushings can be used from aircraft to aircraft to replace components with only periodic replacement of the bushings
- Dramatically reduces time and cleanup of potting fixtures in the replacement of components that mount to existing holes
- Enables accurate positioning and angle of drill bushings
- Bushings are re-heatable, repositionable, and re-usable
- A patent application has been submitted, designated PAX 207, and is available for license from the Navy for commercial or dual-use purposes
- The Navy intends to acquire these bushings, require their use in SLEP programs, and intends to update maintenance manuals
- License fees paid to the Navy are negotiable
- Businesses that license the technology may have the opportunity to pursue collaborative research with the inventors
- Testing data may be available to companies evaluating the technology
- TechLink guides businesses through evaluation and licensing; services provided at no cost