February 26, 2015 1:56:22 pm
In a breakthrough, researchers in Australia have developed the world’s first 3D-printed jet engine that could pave the way for cheaper, lighter and more fuel-efficient aircraft.
The engine was developed through a partnership between Monash University and spin-out company Amaero Engineering. It has already attracted attention from Airbus, Boeing and defence contractor Raytheon.
The breakthrough opens the door for engineers to make and test parts in days instead of months, ABC reported.
“(In the past you had to) melt, mould, carve and turn to get the final product,” said Professor Ian Smith, Monash University’s vice-provost for research.
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“This way 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,” said Smith.
Smith said the capabilities of the technology were only “scratching the tip of the iceberg”.
The technology can be useful in the aerospace industry, and can find enormous applications in the biomedical industry, he said.
“For example, if you’re unfortunate enough to have one of those serious car accidents, you can be scanned in the scanner, that information can then be taken to a 3D printer, and while you’re on the operating table we can print those precise body parts you might need,” Smith added.
Technically known as additive manufacturing, the machine uses a high-powered laser to fuse powdered nickel, titanium or aluminium into the shape of objects.
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