Not long ago the sages in the additive manufacturing world said "Someday in the future we will be able to print a complete Turbine Engine." That someday is now, much sooner than many of us predicted. Researchers at Monash University in Australia recently created a modified version of a Safron Microturbo Auxiliary Power Unit using 3D Printing. The whole thing. Milestone Achieved.
The best article on this amazing story is on the Melbourne Examiner page:
Turbine Engines are really the peak of machine design. They contain every nasty thing you might run into in other machines, but spin faster and run hotter. It's hard stuff. The geometry is difficult, lots of small features and holes, and significant assembly and tolerance constraints. Getting a demonstrator built like this is a huge deal. As a former turbine engine engineer and a long time user of additive manufacturing, I'm amazed.
Check out their video:
The "3d Printer" they used was a huge Concept Laser Direct Laser Melting system. The technology uses a laser to draw on the top of a bed of powder medal, melting the medal in small pools the bind and create a fully dense part with cast like properties. They used three different metals: nickel alloy, titanium, and aluminum.
PADT has chosen to partner with Concept Laser for our metal 3D Printing strategy, which gives us additional excitement for this sucessful project.
Now that someone has achieved this milestone, the industry can move forward with confidence that even more can be done with metal 3D Printing. Much was learned in the creation of this advanced device that we can build on and apply to other industries and applications.
Much is said in the twittersphere and press about printing food or custom dog tags, but this sort of high value industrial application is where the real impact of 3D Printing will be felt. It shows that companies can develop new more efficient products in less time and that are not constrained by traditional manufacturing methods.