If you were under the impression that the whole of Australia is busy watching and cheering their team at the Cricket World Cup 2015, think again. A Team of scientist from Australia have created the world's first 3D-printed jet engine. This breakthrough research will allow engineers to make and test parts in days instead of months. Built with the partnership between Monash University and Amaero Engineering, is certain to get a lot of attention from Jet engine makers like Rolls Royce, GE Aviation and Airline manufacturers like Airbus, Boeing and defence contractor Raytheon.
Professor Ian Smith, Monash University's vice-provost for research said "[In the past you had to] melt, mould, carve and turn to get the final product. This way we can very quickly get a final product, so the advantages of this technology are, firstly, for rapid prototyping and making a large number of prototypes quickly. Secondly, for being able to make bespoke parts that you wouldn't be able to with classic engineering technologies."
"We're the only centre [in the world] that's developed the materials that go into the printers, so we can make stuff of sufficient quality. That's why the French aerospace industry and large companies like Safran, Microturbo and Airbus are wanting to work with Monash and work with Australian companies."
This project started as a challenge from French aerospace company Safran. They gave the Monash researchers an old jet engine and asked them to replicate it. The researchers were so successful that they were able to get contracts for making top-secret prototype parts for Safran, Boeing and Airbus.
Professor Ian Smith seem pretty confident about 3d printing and said that this achievement was just the “scratching the tip of the iceberg. We've talked about how it can be useful in the aerospace industry, but we see enormous applications in the biomedical industry. For example, if you're unfortunate enough to have one of those serious car accidents, you can be scanned in the scanner, that information can then be taken to a 3D printer, and while you're on the operating table we can print those precise body parts you might need”.
According to Mr. Smith 3d printing can give the manufacturing industry the much needed shot in the arm. He said "The real impact [of the car industry's decline] is the demise of the supply chain industry that supports the automotive sector. We would like to think that revolutionary, disruptive technologies like this can take the place of some of the more traditional industries. We can build new industries or we can regenerate existing industries with these kinds of technologies."
The newly developed 3d printed Jet Engine is now at display at the Australian International Airshow in Avalon, Victoria. While there are many manufacturers participating in this years event, Amaero's small booth is certainly a crowd puller. One notable visitor, Chief scientist of the US Air Force, Dr Mica Endsley seemed particularly interested in this project. Dr Robert Hobbs from Amaero Engineering's said "[Dr Endsley said it was] very interesting, it's an area they're looking at right now and they see great opportunity, much as we do in the same area. Quite a lot of machinery in Australia is now getting older, particularly in the defence area. Getting spare parts is not easy – it can take quite a lot of time. What we can do is turn these parts around very quickly."
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