General Motors Prints Functional Miniature Jet Engine
Very few companies in the manufacturing sector have embraced the use of industrial strength 3D printers for manufacturing technology. The large manufacturing companies are drawn towards 3D printers for the unprecedented customization and the unique prototyping abilities they have. However, in the past year, this has slowly been changing. More companies are starting to experiment and work with 3D printers in their industry to increase production and recycle products.
Recently, one of America’s big giants, General Electric, has just printed a fully functional miniature jet engine using their 3D printer. According to Jeff Immelt, chief executive of General Electric, the 3D printing technology is making manufacturing ‘sexy again’. Furthermore, President Obama has to agree that the new 3D technology has the ‘potential to revolutionize the way we make everything’.
GE is one of the well established giants of the industry that is fully embracing the new 3D printing technology. Today, GE uses the new technology to construct fuel nozzles for its LEAP jet engines. The new fuel nozzle could actually be used on aircrafts this coming year.
GE’s Additive Development Center engineer, David Bartosik, and his team designed a fully functional miniature jet engine for a radio-controlled airplane. This demonstrates GE’s commitment to 3D printing. Bartosik team redesigned an RC engine using a 3D printer EOS M270. The miniature jet engine was tested in an Aviation test chamber, where the engine achieved speeds up to 33,000 RPMs.
Rick Kennedy, the aviation spokesman for GE, said that 3D printing is especially suitable for manufacturing highly sophisticated parts that otherwise would be difficult using conventional ways. He went on to say, ‘that in case of jet engines, it is absolutely understandable that every part has to work properly’.
Kennedy said that the new 3D printer technology offers the necessary level of precision needed to fabricate the engine parts. Furthermore, the technology allows GE to achieve complex geometries usually unattainable in conventions manufacturing. Therefore, the technology allows GE to work with high-temperatures, high-strength alloys that aren’t accessible in conventional manufacturing. The new printed parts have up to five times more durability, and fewer parts than traditionally manufactured parts. The manufactured nozzles have 20 individual parts, where the 3D printed nozzles are produced in a single entity.
GE feels when it comes to producing jet parts, only the best is good enough and nothing else will do. GE only relies on the EOS M270 3D printer that uses Direct Metal Laser Sintering technology for manufacturing their jet engine parts. The printer has 200-watt laser to melt ultra-thin layers of metal powders together.
Understand, this doesn’t mean that all jet engines will be completely manufactured using 3D printer technology in the future, but what it does mean is that GE is dedicated to the new revolutionary manufacturing technology. Next year 3D printed nozzles will be featured on aircraft and what can we expect next? Kennedy said that you can expect to see 3D printed components in the next few years.
About Ann Johnston
Ann enjoys writing, reading, gardening, fishing and the great outdoors. Her job has allowed her to travel and live in different countries. She enjoys studying and learning about different cultures.