General Electric Aviation will introduce the world’s first 3D-printed parts in an aircraft engine platform this year.
Each of the new CFM LEAP engines, a joint venture between GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines, will have 19 3D-printed fuel nozzles in the combustion that’s impossible to be made any other way.
The benefits of printing these parts include being 25% lighter than its predecessor part, a simpler design that involves the number of parts used to make the nozzle being reduced from 18 to 1, and new design features that have more intricate cooling pathways and support ligaments that will result in five times higher durability vs. conventional manufacturing.
These benefits will lead to higher performance from the engines.
With several thousand orders for the new CFM LEAP, GE Aviation will produce more than 100,000 3D-printed parts by 2020.
Today, GE is the world’s largest user of additive technologies in metals.
The production of 3D-printed parts in GE aircraft engines signals a paradigm shift that is happening with the emergence of additive manufacturing that’s gaining traction.
Additive not only offers the opportunity to design incredible new parts, but it also opens up a platform for new possibilities of designing entirely new materials.
New advances in laser technology and 3D-printing machines are allowing scientists to experiment with new material configurations by mixing and combining metal powders in even more innovative ways.
Aviation represents the first General Electric business where additive technologies are being applied.
GE scientists are also developing applications for other GE businesses as well, which include: the production of a low-cost ultrasound traducer that allows intricate patterns on the probe face to be printed all at once vs. time intensive, micromachining techniques used today; rapid prototyping of new appliance designs at 15000 parts/year; turbomachinery prototyping and development of new pump parts; and a combustion component undergoing field testing and is actively exploring the use of the AM for new (high-performance) designs.