It the beginning of the 3D printing ‘hype’ it was all about printing funny looking phone cases and jewelry, but as time passes, the technique – which, by the way, exists since the 1980’s – evolves. We’ve seen houses being 3D printed earlier this year, and now researchers from Australia have managed to 3D print two jet engines. The benefits of this approach? It could lead to cheaper, lighter and more fuel efficient engines.
This work was done by engineers and researchers at Amaero Engineering and Monash University, Melbourne. To The Guardian, Amaero’s business development manager Ben Batagol was lyrical about the project. He said: “The project is a spectacular proof of concept that’s leading to significant contracts with aerospace companies.”
After French aerospace giant Safran challenged them, researchers worked for as many as two years to create a proper technique to 3D print the two jet engines. They used 3D scanning techniques the measure the shape of the jet engines. They then created the engines by using a high-powered laser. They fused powdered nickel, titanium or aluminium into the shapes of the objects. The first engine took them 12 months to complete. The team had some experience when they started working on the second one, which took them only three months to 3D print.
As mentioned before, 3D printing jet engines could lower the costs of manufacturing and make engines more fuel efficient. One of the two jet engines has been sent to Safran, but another one is currently on display at the Avalon Airshow in Australia. The company is even planning on printing a third engine. They will focus on ligher materials. 3D printing allows them to make very complex parts, which wouldn’t be possible in traditional ways.
Image credits: Amaero Engineering and Monash University/ Safran.