Aeronautical Future Paved by Metal 3D Printing
“Less Material, Less Energy, Less Emissions”
3D Printing is known to be very efficient since it is an Additive Manufacturing process. Rather than taking a material and cutting from it what you need, Additive Manufacturing only uses the amount of material needed to get the job done, leaving little to no waste behind. 3D Printing also allows various materials to be combined rather easily to form new and better compounds. Metal 3D Printing has become a very valued industrial manufacturing technique in recent years. Though 3D Printing, in many of its forms, has existed since the 1980’s, more people than ever before are paying close attention to the technology. Metal 3D Printing has also recently gained a lot of attention amongst the general public, especially since some scientists at Michigan Tech built a metal 3D Printer for under $1500 USD where as before the cheapest metal 3D Printers were well over $10,000 USD.
It also seems that large companies are showing more of an interest in metal 3D Printing, as they have realized that all the excitement and innovation shown by Open Source and Maker communities, as well as small businesses, may be founded on a solid outlook of 3D Printing Technology. AVIO AERO is a subsidiary of the General Electric (GE) company and a worldwide leader for engines used in aviation. GE sees the potential for 3D Printing to not only make manufacturing of components for jet engines, gears, and other parts, cheaper and easier, but also of higher quality, which is rare when the previous two factors are sought after in manufacturing.
GE has already used the metal 3D Printing process to work with material such as Titanium Aluminide (TiAl), a combination of Titanium and Aluminum. Both Titanium and Aluminium are light-weight and strong, Titanium being one of the strongest known metals. On their own, both metals are resilient to some environmental factors. The Aluminum adds protection against rusting and heat degradation, both of which Titanium by itself is vulnerable to, and the Titanium adds structural strength as Aluminium can be weak under certain circumstances. You can discover more about TiAl here. In the video below AVIO AERO shares more about why they looked to metal 3D Printing to advance General Electric’s aeronautical technology.