3D printing is on the rise. It’s more affordable and accessible than ever, and as more people take advantage of those benefits, we’re starting to see some interesting and unique uses for the technology. What can’t you print these days? From 3D printed food to skin to camera lenses, the possibilities are limited only by our imaginations.
GE pushed that limit even further last week with a 3D printed miniature jet engine that not only runs, but roars at 33,000 RPM (rotations per minute).
How do you design a working jet engine the size of a backpack? Due to the complexity and cost of replicating a full scale jet engine, the GE team began with something a little simpler: The design for a remote-controlled model plane engine. They then modified the design to fit their 3D printing machines.
The GE team built the engine from additive manufacturing (3D printed) parts. They used direct metal laser melting (DMLM), a process that melts metal powder layer upon layer, to create the parts.They then assembled the parts and fired it up inside the same test cell they use for full-scale engines.
See the engine in action, and pay close attention at 26 seconds. You might recognize the software they’re using (hint: it’s NX).
Images and video courtesy of GE Aviation.