3D Printing? Yeah, so what. I’ve seen lots of 3D printers. They’re inaccurate as heck, they only produce plastic, and it takes more sanding and bondo than my mother-in-law’s crashed Vista Cruiser station wagon to get a part to look halfway decent. I’m a real machinist. I don’t need no stinkin’ 3D Printing, I’ve got CNC mills and lathes.
Not so fast, buddy. What if you had a 3D printer capable of making metal parts, even parts out of tough solid-green unobtanium metals like Inconel? What if the metal parts came out in high resolution, and only precision bearing surfaces needed a quick clean up pass in a “real” machine tool? That’d be pretty nifty, right? You’re darned tootin’.
Well eat your hearts out, because GE used just such a 3D printer to make this miniature turbo jet engine they call the “Angel’s Trumpet:”
GE 3D Printed a Miniature Jet Engine…
Now don’t get me wrong–I love my Day Job running CNCCookbook. I get to write these articles, work on cool CNC Software, and do all manner of other fun things. But so far I haven’t gotten to do anything quite so cool as 3D printing a miniature working jet engine.
The 3D Printing technology used to make the engine is called DMLM, or “Direct Metal Laser Melting.” It involves using a layer to melt together powdered metal into layers. The machines used to make the parts are EOS M270’s. We discuss the machines at more length in the 3D Printing installment of our fantasy Tony Stark’s Workshop series. Fun stuff, but very expensive–between $500K and $1 million.
Here’s a video with a lot more information on the Angel’s Trumpet project:
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