Feb. 25, 2015

Monash University researchers in Australia, along with CSIRO and Deakin University, have produced a jet engine using 3D printing. According to the reseachers, this is the first time an entire aircraft engine has been printed.

The 3D printed engine is a replica of a gas turbine engine, an auxiliary power unit used in aircraft such as the Falcon 20 private jet. Its producer, French aerospace company Microturbo (Safran) says it was chosen because they were willing for the internal workings to be displayed.

Two jet engines have been printed. One is on display this week at the International Air Show in Avalon, while the second is displayed in Toulouse at Microturbo.

Given that this is an old model, univeristy researchers needed to take the engine to pieces and scan the components one by one. "It was our chance to prove what we could do," says Professor Xinhua Wu, the director of the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing.

It was a complex project that took a year and funding from Monash University, the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF). But the whole printing process took only about one month. Totally 14 major components were printed using metal laser printers. Wu says that the engine components will be tested in real conditions in about two years.

"The project is a spectacular proof of concept that's leading to significant contracts with aerospace companies. It was a challenge for the team and pushed the technology to new heights of success – no one has printed an entire engine commercially yet, "says Ben Batagol, of Amaero Engineering, the company created by Monash University to make the technology available to Australian industry.

Monash University opened a 3D printing research and development hub in November last year. Their goal is to establish a team of experts and researchers from across the board of scientific and medical industries and laboratories, who will aim to develop new applications of 3D printing. It will also focus on training new 3D printing specialists 'to keep up with demand for this burgeoning technology.'

"Australia's manufacturing industries need access to the latest technologies to stay competitive," says Professor Ian Smith, Monash University's Vice Provost for Research and Research Infrastructure. "This Centre allows them to rapidly prototype metal devices across a wide range of industries," he says.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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