Australia Lifts Curtain From World’s First 3D Printed Jet Engine
While we are still registering the possibility of 3D printing objects in our homes, researchers and innovators have already gone a step ahead and actually printed ice creams, houses and heart vessels.
Another addition to the list is the world’s first 3D printed jet engine, revealed by Australian researchers on Thursday, which depicts a quantum leap in the manufacturing world, as it has opened up possibilities for cheaper, lighter and more fuel-efficient jets.
Engineers at Monash University are developing top-secret prototypes in collaboration with commercial expertise converged into a private company Amaero Engineering set up by Monash to market the product. So far the following companies are clients of Amaero, and it certainly points towards saving the country’s battling manufacturing sector.
- Boeing Co
- Airbus Group NV
- Raytheon Co
- Safran SA
“This will allow aerospace companies to compress their development cycles because we are making these prototype engines three or four times faster than normal,” said Simon Marriott, CEO Amaero Engineering.
Marriott said Amaero also plans to test the printed engine components in flight within the next 12 months, and will be certified for commercial use within two or three years.
Australia looks like it can pull it off well, as it has one of only three of the important large-format 3D metal printers in the world, where France and Germany have the other two. Moreover, it is the only place that produces the materials to be used in the machine, and has strong intellectual property related to 3D printing techniques for manufacturing.
“We have personnel that have 10 years experience on this equipment and that gives us a huge advantage,” Marriott claimed.
Marriott, however, did not comment in detail about Amaero’s contracts with companies like Boeing and Airbus, to ensure commercial confidentiality. Apparently, the contracts are expected to pay some amount to build more large-format printers, each costing $2.75 million. The payments are being made by these large scale companies so that production of these engine components can be increased, taking lesser time as 3D printing can cut production times from three months to just six days.
“This way we can very quickly get a final product, so the advantages of this technology are, firstly, for rapid prototyping and making a large number of prototypes quickly,” Ian Smith, vice-provost for research said. “Secondly, for being able to make bespoke parts that you wouldn’t be able to with classic engineering technologies.”