With the rise of 3D printing, many industries have begun to implement this unique manufacturing process into their research and development departments as well as their production lines. Aerospace is one of these industries and it is being led by General Electric (NYSE: GE) with their use of 3D Printers in their manufacturing of jet engines.
GE has been using this technology to manufacture the fuel nozzles in their latest, next generation jet engine line, the LEAP 1A. The fuel nozzles in GE’s original line of jet engines were manufactured with 20 different metal parts and required frequent maintenance and replacement. In their newest line, the fuel nozzles will be “printed” as one metal piece. This new nozzle will reduce the need for maintenance and replacement of parts which in turn reduces the risk of malfunction and the cost of repairs.
In addition to GE, other companies have begun using 3D printing technology to allow for rapid prototyping and testing, as well as a means to reduce manufacturing costs and waste. These companies include; Bell Helicopter, maker of the heavy-lift tilt-rotor military aircraft, “Osprey”, Piper Aircraft, maker of single and twin engine training and personal aircraft and SelectTech Geospatial, maker of the first 3D printed UAV (Unmanned Ariel Vehicle) also known as a “drone”.
For those who are less familiar with this technology, 3D printing also known as additive manufacturing is a form of manufacturing that produces three dimensional objects by printing layers of material and are guided by customized CAD (Computer Aided Design) files. By printing layers of materials which include; polymers and plastics, metal, and even organic material like animal and human cells, intricate three dimensional objects can be created without the need for additional internal parts.
The applications are endless for this technology and many more industries and companies will begin to incorporate this method of manufacturing into their standard operations.
To Learn more about 3D printing, check out my other GOOD BUSINESS Article: 3D Printing: 5 Questions