It might not be enough to power a real jet, but this mini engine could certainly be the first step to a new method of manufacturing full-size ones. A team of engineers at GE have not only successfully 3D printed a small jet engine that works, but one that can handle 33,000 rotations per minute. But this wasn’t made with the same MakerBot you have at home. The team behind the engine is responsible for developing additive manufacturing, which is based on melting metal powder into layers and making 3D structures.
Because the manufacturing technology is so new, and this was one of the first side projects to use it, it actually took several years to complete the jet engine. The unit was based on plans for an engine that would power a remote control model plane, as a commercial aircraft engine was far too complicated to for 3D printing machinery. It ended up measuring 8 inches tall and 1 foot long.
Because additive manufacturing is based on fusing thin layers of metal on top one another to build something up, instead of cutting a part out of a larger piece, the process wastes less material. The other major benefit is that complex parts can be printed in a precise manner.
The mini engine is now a display piece at GE Aviation’s Additive Development Center, but before that it was tested in a cell where full-size engines are normally run, which is where the above video footage was taken from.
SOURCE: GE Reports