Quick-set potting bushings

Assists in locating the hole features on fixed surfaces when replacing old components

Materials Military Technology

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.

Currently, it takes six hours to align a new flight component on an F/A-18 Super Hornet. The Navy’s new potting bushing enables that process to be completed within minutes.

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

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