In aerospace, the smallest things make the biggest difference such as manufacturing low-cost, lightweight components capable of drastically reducing overall fuel costs. Instead of spending large amounts of money on some components, more and more manufacturers in the aerospace sector are utilizing 3D printing in order create lightweight, cost-friendly components easily and efficiently.
Aerospace giant Pratt & Whitney (P&W) has created the first working aero-engine, the PurePower PW1500G, to use additively manufactured parts.
The engine consists of 24 additively manufactured parts, from simple brackets to complex central engine components that were designed to hold up in extremely high temperatures.
Incredibly, the PurePower engine has already successfully completed a test flight in a Bombardier CSeries plane and the engine is scheduled to enter into service by 2015.
P&W’s Geared Turbofan (GTF) engine utilizes powder-bed additive manufacturing, and has already compiled more than 5,000 engine orders and commitments.
Additive manufacturing is extremely attractive in aerospace because the process takes less time than traditional methods, lowers costs, and minimizes waste.
Not to mention, materials can be produced in many more ways and be changed with a touch of a button, a luxury never before seen when it comes to aerospace-grade metals.
Pratt & Whitney has called upon additive manufacturing to make more than 100,000 parts and prototypes to date, including casting patterns, tooling and test rig hardware.
The company expects to integrate more of this new technology into their manufacturing process moving forward, with an overall goal of making products as green and efficient as possible.