bracket

Print it! Flying on an airplane with 3D printed parts

Today we are taking our Print It! series to the sky where a group of designers, engineers and big companies are working hard to take the 3D printing process to a whole new level.

Many people still struggle with the idea of “printing” things by adding one layer of material on top of another, but Michael Idelchik, who runs GE’s advanced technologies research, is already talking about “printing large portions of jet engines.”

A full aircraft engine is still a tall order but printed jet engine parts are already here. The newest GE jet engines like the CFM LEAP, which GE Aviation makes in a joint venture with France’s Snecma, will have printed combustion system components and other parts inside. Michael Idelchik, who runs GE’s advanced technologies research, has stated that he and his colleagues already know this it is possible, so now it is a case of honing the process.

“Now we want to develop an ecosystem of designers, engineers, materials scientists, and other partners who can learn with us. We have a number of products that we are going to be launching and we want to challenge people to get into business with us. If the ecosystem grows, the entire industry will grow,” Mr Idelchik remarked.

GE recently announced a pair of global “additive manufacturing quests” challenging innovators and entrepreneurs to design a light-weight bracket and hangers for a jet engine.

3D Printing Design Quest

  • Participants will create the best 3D-printable design for an aircraft engine bracket.
  • The top ten designs will win $1,000 each and will be additively manufactured and tested by GE during phase two.
  • The top 8 designs in the second phase will be awarded from a total prize pool of $20,000.
  • GE has partnered with GrabCAD to launch the design quest. During the quest, GrabCAD’s online community of more than 650,000 global engineers will have a chance to submit their CAD design solutions to a panel including some of GE’s brightest engineers.
  • Today, creative makers worldwide are invited to apply here.

Mr Idelchik explained: “You need to understand software and creative design, the unique properties of the printing machines, and meet the functional requirements of the parts like strength and the ability to handle vibrations”

Are you submitting your design? What do you think about using additive manufacturing in the airplane industry?