3D Printed Jet Engine may be the most important thing at CeBIT

The 3D Printing industry is moving fast. Once printing plastics became affordable, the focus quickly shifted to what was possible with other materials. Sure there’s food printers, but more...

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The 3D Printing industry is moving fast. Once printing plastics became affordable, the focus quickly shifted to what was possible with other materials. Sure there’s food printers, but more significantly metals and composites are now possible. Amaero Engineering is a startup born out of and sponsored by Monash University which manufactures complex metallic components by laser-based additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing) from CAD files.

One of their latest productions is a 3D Printed jet engine. Not only does it look amazing, it takes an incredibly difficult manufacturing process that typically takes 6 – 24 months, down to 1-2 weeks.

Monash University has one incredibly staff member, Professor Xinhua Wu, who has more than 20 years experience in the aeronautical industry and has worked for companies like Roles Royce who create the engines to power the planes you fly on. Australia is now benefiting from this highly qualified background, now holds the position of director of the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing.

Last year her team received a $9 Million investment to establish a 3D Printing hub, a combination of funds by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the ARC Research Hub for Transforming Australia’s Manufacturing.

There’s no doubt that understanding 3D Printing and it’s true potential to revolutionise the manufacturing process will be important to Australia’s future and productivity. The ability to reduce the development timeframe so significantly will mean those businesses that move fast are likely to leap frog the competition. While the cost of 3D printing metals at scale is certainly more expensive than the more common plastics, it’s a lot more efficient than traditional techniques, especially when complex parts are required.

The 3D-printed engine was first on display at the Australian International Airshow in Avalon, Victoria and has already captured the attention of Airbus, Boeing and defence contractor Raytheon. This week it was on display at CeBIT, Australia’s leading technology & business expo is here in Sydney and received some very positive reactions.

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