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New Diesel Engine Prototype Gets Timely Laser Welding Assistance from Preco

Preco's Contract Manufacturing Services played a critical role in helping Engineered Propulsion Systems, Inc., New Richmond, Wisconsin successfully start up a first-of-its-kind prototype small diesel engine that may just revolutionize general aviation. The Flat Vee diesel engine is being designed for smaller aircraft which now use only unleaded fuel. The new diesel engine will mean greater fuel savings for small aircraft operators. A successful first start-up of the engine took place on November 14 at the New Richmond Regional Airport.

Engineered Propulsion Systems

The development team at Engineered Propulsion Systems prepares to start the Flat Vee diesel engine for the first time ever.

"This is a flat 8 configuration that’s the only one of its kind," said Steven Weinzierl, Vice President and Chief Technical Officer for Engineered Propulsion Systems. "The engine we created is greater than 40% thermally efficient and that equates to a savings of between 20% and 30% better fuel economy compared to engines currently in Cessna or Cirrus airplanes. It will burn half the fuel of an equivalent turbo engine."

Preco’s CMS team of Sales Engineer Chris Creighton, Metallurgist Joel DeKock, Laser Technician Brian Grunewaldt, and Engineering Technician Justin Swenby assisted Engineered Propulsion Systems at three key steps in development of the new diesel engine prototype. In late June, the Preco team laser welded several gears together for the main engine. In early August, Preco laser welded a water jacket into the engine block. The water jacket was particularly challenging because it required a very deep weld. In September, Engineered Propulsion Systems turned once more to Preco’s CMS team to provide intricate laser welding of a camshaft.

Weinzierl said Preco’s laser welding processes helped reduce weight on some critical gear components and kept their prototype development process moving forward on schedule. "This project is very weight sensitive, and we wouldn’t have been able to prototype the engine without access to Preco’s advanced laser welding services."

Precision Laser Cutting

Precision laser welding of the
Flat Vee camshaft.

Precision welding was also crucial to making the prototype work, according to Chris Creighton. "Due to the lower heat produced by our laser welding processes, we were able to eliminate any distortion on the gear blanks and camshaft," he said.

Weinzierl also appreciated having access to Joel DeKock. "It was very helpful to have Joel’s knowledge and technical assistance as an on-site metallurgist," he said, "as we selected materials, types of welding techniques and weld penetration levels."

Engineered Propulsion Systems hopes to have the engine in full production in about three years, according to Weinzierl, assuming adequate capital can be generated. And then it hopes to sell the new engines to the leading aircraft manufacturers it’s been working with including Beechcraft, Cirrus, Cessna and Robinson Helicopter.

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