3D Printing

Researchers create world's first 3D-printed jet engines

Researchers create world's fir...
The world's first 3D-printed jet engine on display at the Avalon International Airshow (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
The world's first 3D-printed jet engine on display at the Avalon International Airshow (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
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Components are made from a variety of metals and alloys (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
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Components are made from a variety of metals and alloys (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
One of the two 3D-printed engines (Photo: Monash University)
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One of the two 3D-printed engines (Photo: Monash University)
One of the 3D metal printers used in the project (Photo: Monash University)
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One of the 3D metal printers used in the project (Photo: Monash University)
3D printed combustion chamber (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
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3D printed combustion chamber (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
Each component is printed in layers around 0.05 mm thick (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
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Each component is printed in layers around 0.05 mm thick (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
A laser is utilized to selectively melt metal alloy powder, building up two copies of each component in successive layers (Photo: Monash University)
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A laser is utilized to selectively melt metal alloy powder, building up two copies of each component in successive layers (Photo: Monash University)
One of the 3D printed engines currently on display at the International Air Show in Avalon, Australia (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
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One of the 3D printed engines currently on display at the International Air Show in Avalon, Australia (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
One of the 3D printed engines currently on display at the International Air Show in Avalon, Australia (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
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One of the 3D printed engines currently on display at the International Air Show in Avalon, Australia (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
The world's first 3D-printed jet engine on display at the Avalon International Airshow (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
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The world's first 3D-printed jet engine on display at the Avalon International Airshow (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
The world's first 3D-printed jet engine on display at the Avalon International Airshow (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
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The world's first 3D-printed jet engine on display at the Avalon International Airshow (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
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Monash University's Dr David Lyster (left) and Managing Director of Amaero, Simon Marriott with the 3D printed proof of concept engine (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
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Monash University's Dr David Lyster (left) and Managing Director of Amaero, Simon Marriott with the 3D printed proof of concept engine (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
Prof. Xinhua Wu with one of the engines (Photo: Monash University)
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Prof. Xinhua Wu with one of the engines (Photo: Monash University)

Working with colleagues from Deakin University and CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), researchers from Australia's Monash University have created the world's first 3D-printed jet engine. While they were at it, they created the world's second one, too. One of them is currently on display at the International Air Show in Avalon, Australia, while the other can be seen at the headquarters of French aerospace company Microturbo, in Toulouse.

A team from the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing and spin-off company Amaero started with an older gas turbine engine contributed by Microturbo (Safran). Still in working order, the small engine was used for auxiliary power in aircraft such as the Falcon 20 business jet.

Led by Prof. Xinhua Wu, the team proceeded to take the engine apart, and scan all the individual components. Using computer models obtained from those scans, a laser was then utilized to selectively melt metal alloy powder, building up two copies of each component in successive layers. When those parts were subsequently assembled, two metal replicas of the original engine were produced.

The project took a year to complete, and received funding from multiple groups including the Australian Research Council. It has reportedly resulted in a number of aerospace companies expressing interest in developing components at the university – using 3D printing, components that previously would have taken months to design and manufacture could be made in weeks.

Each component is printed in layers around 0.05 mm thick (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)
Each component is printed in layers around 0.05 mm thick (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag.com)

According to Wu, the next step will be to fine-tune the finish of the components, with testing of a 3D-printed engine expected to take place within a couple of years.

A functioning 3D-printed rocket engine, incidentally, was created by students at the University of California, San Diego in 2013.

Prof. Wu discusses the project in the video below.

Source: Monash University

3D Printing of a small Jet Engine

7 comments
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is way cool.
Bob Shock
Last year the press way-overhyped the "3d printed car" which was in reality just a 3d printed auto body over a conventional electric car. With this tech, the car could be truly made with a 3d printer! Really cool!
xs400
Not yet! Only "metal replicas of the original engine were produced" - this means it is a long way off from becoming a fully functioning and reliable engine.
Germano Pecoraro
To me it seems the discovery of hot water: 3D printing was devised in the 70s and 80s of last century; was applied mainly in the military, aero-space, F1 and other strategic areas.
ChgoSTrider
Call me when it runs.
Gregg Eshelman
Until it burns fuel and runs it's a model of an engine, not an engine.
bass1
They weren't first.... GE 3d printed one that actually worked. http://www.mmsonline.com/blog/post/video-miniature-jet-engine-made-through-additive-manufacturing