WORLD FIRST: GE have 3d printed a working jet engine
General Electric this week revealed that it has completed a multi-year project to print a working jet engine.The engine, small enough to fit in a backpack, was built by a team of technicians, machinists and engineers at GE Aviation's Additive Development Centre outside Cincinnati.
The lab is working with additive manufacturing as a way to produce next-generation jet parts using a technique known as (DMLM).
The engine also required some post-printing machining and polishing of parts. The research team then rigged up a data acquisition system to measure exhaust temperature, speed and thrust.
The engine, which consisted of more than a dozen parts, was printed on an M270 industrial 3D printer from EOS. The machine can melt a variety of alloys, including cobalt chrome, nickel alloy, titanium and stainless steel.
The M270 3D printer allowed the GE engineers to use high-temperature alloys not typically available to the radio-controlled engine industry. The resulting engine from GE's 3D printing process endured numerous tests and the turbine achieved 33,000 rpm.
The GE research team had been working on the engine for several years. The researchers have already built working aircraft components using the DMLM 3D printing method, including an FAA-approved part for a GE90 jet engine. The part is a metal housing for a sensor, known as T25. Unable to yet build a full-sized working jet engine, the engineers used a radio controlled airplane jet engine model plans, and tweaked them to improve performance.
The jet turbine engine is GE's first functioning prototype. Earlier this year, a group of researchers at an Australian university, along with its spinoff company, used 3D printing to make two metal jet engines that, while only proof-of-concept designs, have all the working parts of a functioning gas turbine engine.
The FAA recently cleared the first 3D printed part in a commercial jet engine from GE. The part (seen here) was a sensor housing for the jet engine.
The two engines, created by Monash University and its spinoff Amaero Engineering, are garnering a lot of attention from leading aeronautics companies. Airbus, Boeing and defense contractor Raytheon are lining up at the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing in Melbourne to develop new components with 3D printing.
The proof of concepts are replicas of an auxiliary power unit used in aircraft such as the Falcon 20 French business jet, which was provided by Microturbo.
IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.