The world’s first 3D-printed jet engine — a breakthrough for aerospace manufacturing and beyond — took the spotlight Thursday at the Avalon Airshow in Australia. Monash University in Melbourne and Amaero Engineering partnered to develop the engine to show how the technology can make a complex machine in a fraction of the time taken in traditional manufacturing. They garnered global attention from aerospace manufacturers, defense contractors and military entities visiting the expo, which is taking place through Sunday in Geelong.
Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, has been around since the early 1980s, gaining traction in recent years with its use in a variety of industries. The Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing set out to explore the jet engine concept two years ago at the inquiry of French aerospace concern Safran, according to The Sydney Morning Herald’s report, which includes a video of the printing process.”They gave us an old engine, we pulled it apart and then part by part we’ve been manufacturing it for them,” Amaero’s business development manager Ben Batagol said. “We’ve now printed two engines.” One is with Safran in France, and the other is on display at the Avalon Airshow. “We’re going to be doing a third engine potentially that will be light weight, so we’ll take all the material out and look at making it a light weight engine,” Batagol told the newspaper. The printing method uses a powerful laser that fuses powdered nickel, titanium or aluminum and forms objects layer by layer, the Morning Herald reported.