Researchers from Australia`s Monash University along with researchers of Deakin University and CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) led by Prof. Xinhua Wu have succeeded in creating not one but two 3D-printed jet engines. They are available for display at the International Air Show in Avalon, Australia headquarters of French aerospace company Microturbo, in Toulouse.
Originally, researchers from the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing and spin-off company Amaero took an older gas turbine engine contributed by Microturbo (Safran) which was still in working order and took it apart to scan all the individual components. The engine was used by Microturbo for auxiliary power in aircraft such as the Falcon 20 business jet.
These scans were then converted to computer models and a laser was used for making two identical copies of each component in layers by selective melting of metal alloy powder. Assembling of the two identical replicas of the original engine resulted into two engines.
The project being funded by several groups included the Australian Research Council took one year for completion. With the help of this technology, components that previously took months for completion can be made in weeks using 3D printing. That’s why the university is being approached by multiple companies to taking interest in the encouraging results of the research. Next level research in the area according to the research team is fine tuning of components, with testing of a 3D-printed engine expected to take place within a couple of years.