Lycoming Takes Piston Manufacturing Back In-House

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For the first time since the late 1960s, Lycoming can produce in-house pistons, and the company believes the technology it developed with an English partner company and a Japanese machine tool company puts it well ahead of competitors. The company unveiled its new process and machinery Wednesday. In practice, a billet goes through four individual but connected machines -- with automated quality-control measures built in -- and, two to four minutes later, it comes out as a finished piston. According to the company, each sub-process ends with an automated quality inspection to ensure it meets manufacturing specifications, and every fifth piston is checked manually. "Now we don't have to worry if there is a supplier out there to fill our needs," company spokesman Scott Miller told the SunGazette.com. "We can fill our own needs."

To create the machines and process, Lycoming partnered with Cosworth Group of England (a technology company) and Takisawa of Japan (a high-performance machine tool company). Cosworth was a key player in designing the machine line, process and pistons used by Lycoming, and says the system is "far in excess of anything Lycoming's competitors have." According to Lycoming, in-house piston manufacturing for aircraft engines, which it suspended more than 40 years ago, is just one step toward the quality assurance and on-time delivery standards the company is seeking to ensure.