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Build a Jet Plane in Your Basement — A Large Basement

Posted on March 19, 2015

This is the new reality: 3D printing of metal plane parts.

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3D printing final parts in metal has taken a big leap forward when it comes to aviation.

A group of researchers at Monash University in Australia, along with international collaborators, has printed all of the major parts for a jet engine. In fact, Monash and their spin-out company Amaero have printed two engines. One was on display in late February at the Avalon International Air Show at Avalon Airport, in Victoria, Australia, while the second is on display in Toulouse, France, at the French aerospace company Microturbo (a division of Safran).

We’ve all heard a lot about 3D printing lately, and even we at Designfax have to admit that sometimes the headlines are not indicative of the true state of affairs of the technology’s progression. In terms of 3D-printed cars, for example, it is usually the frame and body that are printed. The main components to run the vehicle are not. And traditionally, 3D printing has been used to great advantage for prototyping, not for end-use parts. But there have been exceptions and progressions.

In the case of the Monash 3D-printed engine, just printing one or two engine components is not the case. All of the major components for the small gas-turbine engine have been produced using additive manufacturing, and the impressive next-stage goal is to get this actual engine firing. Granted, there are pieces to put the final working engine together that have not been made using 3D printing. They did not 3D print the fastener elements, for example. But that really makes this effort no less impressive.

“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 and some worldwide partners.

(For the rest of the article, click the link.)

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