Aerospace industry a fan of world’s first 3D-printed jet engine

26 Feb 2015

A team of Australian engineers have joined forces with a number of major aerospace companies to build the world’s first 3D-printed jet engine, which could make its manufacture much cheaper.

The group of engineers and scientists from Monash University, Melbourne, have been developing the technology for some time now, but after working with the likes of Boeing, Airbus, Raytheon and Safran, the team now says it is within sight of putting its prototype through its paces.

According to The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the team says the first working prototype for flight testing could be ready in a little under a year and if all goes well and it receives certification, it could be used in commercial aircraft in the next two to three years.

To make the potentially revolutionary engine a commercially viable product, the university and its engineers have established a spin-off company called Amaero Engineering, led by one of those involved in the project, Simon Marriott.

The aforementioned aerospace companies are also believed to have struck deals with the Australian start-up but no details of how much money was involved has been released. According to the IET, it is understood to be helping to fund much larger 3D printers, each of which costs about AUS$3.5m (€2.44m), to scale-up the production of their 3D-printed engines.

Commenting on the manufacturing process, Ian Smith, Monash University’s vice-provost for research said, “We can very quickly get a final product, so the advantages of this technology are, firstly, for rapid prototyping and making a large number of prototypes quickly, secondly, for being able to make bespoke parts that you wouldn’t be able to with classic engineering technologies.”

Jet engine image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic