This week, open source commercial space company DIYROCKETS and 3D-modeling software company Sunglass have announced the world's first open source competition to create 3D printed rocket engines. Yes, you can do a lot with 3D printing, even engines. Back in 2011, Professor David Sheffler's class in University of Virginia engineering class has built a one-quarter-scale working replica of the Rolls-Royce AE3007 turbofan jet engine used in UAVs, thanks to the revolution in 3D printing. Because the parts were printed in plastic, the engine is powered by compressed air rather than jet fuel. Totally 43 parts of the replica engine were printed in layers measuring 0.010 of an inch at a time. Then the class spent more than 150 hours assembling the engine.
With conventional manufacturing this process would have taken years and cost a quarter-million dollars, said Sheffler. Students made it in four months for under $2,000, about $1,500 for the plastic and another $300 for the bearings, nuts, and bolts.
3D printing used to be something only for the Pros, but now with the release of the open source software and entry level desktop 3D printer, more and more people can fabricate their creations at home. And you can often find creative designs shared by innovative people online. One type of the many interesting creations is 3D printed engines. Here are some cool projects:
3D printed Stirling engine
On Thingiverse the most impressive engine creation is the 3D printed stirling engine designed by user Doug Conner.
This is a Stirling engine which is a type of heat engine operating by cyclic compression and expansion of air or other gas. The working fluid is permanently contained within the system. At different temperature levels heat energy is converted to mechanical work. It needs about a 50 degF (28 degC) heat differential to run and cruises about 300 rpm unloaded. This engine was printed using a Stratasys 3D printer. There are totally 11 3D printed parts you can print out. The rest are some metal parts Doug Conner bought off-the-shelf. Stirling engine has the potential to be much more efficient than a gasoline or diesel engine.
Doug Conner has made this 3D printed Stirling engine project open source so that anyone could download and build it.
3D Printed V8 Engines
This model of V8 engine designed by jamesl_89 is 3D printed using an UP Plus printer, printed at 0.2mm resolution. The Crank and pistons were printer all as one part and required cleaning in order to fit easily into the engine block.
Another 3D printed V8 engine, a larger version, is made by sirmakesalot on a makerbot replicator 3D printer. The body is 225mm long, the pistons are 43mm and they connect with printed cylinders instead of filament.
3D Printed Oscillating Steam Engine
This completely 3D printed oscillating steam engine by cbabbage is printed in ABS plastic on Makerbot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer. In the video the engine is being run from a Co2 bottle at about 15 PSI. The model can be downloaded here at Thingiverse.
3D printed steam engine by gizmoguyar
Wobbler Engine by BackyardWorkshop
All parts for making a wobbler engine are printed on a Reprap 3D Printer.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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Paul of the Outer Spiral Arm wrote at 8/13/2014 4:47:46 AM:
Can anyone offer any first hand experience with the steam engine models? They spin pretty quickly - is any lubrication used? If so, what sort won't damage the plastic? If not lubricating, has anyone experienced a meltdown of the piston/cylinder or other bearings? Thanks, Paul.
Paul of the Outer Spiral Arm wrote at 8/13/2014 4:42:34 AM:
Can anyone offer any first hand experience with the steam engine models? They spin pretty quickly - is any lubrication used? If so, what sort won't damage the plastic? If not lubricating has anyone eperienced a meltdown of the piston/cylinder or other bearings? Thanks, Paul.