Most manufacturers farm out work to subcontractors to save money, but Lycoming is returning the production of pistons to its factory. The company has not made pistons in nearly 50 years.
Lycoming developed a process and equipment with the help of companies in Japan and England. The new process has built-in quality inspections, but every fifth piston is checked manually, company officials told a media briefing in May. A piston is made in less than 10 minutes.
The process was designed by Cosworth Group of England, while Takisawa of Japan built the machines. It relieves Lycoming of dependency on subcontractors. Lycoming officials said they believe the new technology makes them more competitive.
Pistons are built in a multimillion-dollar mini-factory that begins with cylindrical aluminum forgings and ends with a completed piston. The billet goes through four automated machines during the manufacturing process.
Quality inspections are completed automatically, except for the manual inspections. Having piston manufacturing “in house” provides the company with complete control over the process, said Don Wagner, vice president of operations Lycoming Leadership Team, Lycoming Engines. It will provide pistons for new and overhauled engines, and for spare parts.