3-D printed part from an airplane turbine


16 Responses to “3-D printed part from an airplane turbine”

  1. peregrinus says:

    Apparently this helps improve fuel efficiency by 15% (GE’s figures I think)


    Laser sintering, probably.  Powdered metal is fused by a moving laser beam.  It’s slow and I don’t know how the energy input compares to casting, forging or subtractive manufacture (machining) but it can produce very detailed shapes.  It’s not used much but we’re seeing more of it in the laser industry.  More frequently, additive applications are used to apply a layer of dissimilar material on a surface of a part.

    • AnthonyC says:

      The company they acquired in December 2012 that does metal printing – Morris Technologies – used laser sintering and electron beam melting.

    • g33dav3y says:

      According to a video I saw, metal powder-fabricated parts are sintered in a kiln, not as they are being fabricated. So it’s a two-step process, and no ludicrously high-energy lasers are involved.

  3. Ted Lemon says:

    This is great, assuming (which I’m sure they do) that they keep in mind the difference in strength between forged parts and sintered parts.

  4. Ted Lemon says:

    This is great, assuming (which I’m sure they do) that they keep in mind the difference in strength between forged parts and sintered parts.

  5. omnivore says:

    ” It’s full of holes and has rounded, rather than square, corners, both of which represent the reduction of unneeded material that you couldn’t easily do away with in any other way.”

    Unless you had a milling machine.

    • mccrum says:

      It was possible before, but was probably just deemed too expensive.

    • jackbird says:

      I bet there are some internal voids you couldn’t even get to with a mill.

    • g33dav3y says:

       3-D printing can create voids that are completely enclosed, shaving weight where no milling machine can.

    • Nagurski says:

       There are indeed lots of ways to get there. I suppose in any individual case it’s up to the engineers, bean counters, and the particular machines a manufacturer has invested in.

    • omnivore says:

      In reply to all: that doesn’t seem to be the case with this piece: it’s a very straightforward milling task, from what can be seen. Obviously, they’re doing it for good reasons, but the reasons might not be the ones cited.

      Expense also equates to time, and I’m wondering what the through-put is on a sintering machine vs a milled casting. 

      As far as voids goes, that’s a plus point, but uninspectable areas would be a problem in some cases. OTOH, they can probably photograph the whole thing as it’s created, so that might deal with that.

      It’s totally cool, but milling is still pretty good technology.

  6. g33dav3y says:

    First airplanes, then race cars, then cars. There’s going to be a revolution in manufacturing in the next 20 years. I wish I was 30 years younger!

    • Knifesmith says:

       The “revolution” is happening more or less constantly, and always has been.  Tech is constantly evolving, perhaps not always big leaps of punctuated equilibrium such that the technology of 3d printing may represent, but it is constantly improving. 

      And…  you don’t have to be 30 years younger to participate or see the fruits of the process…

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