Here's a 3D Printed Jet Engine Model That Works

It’s my personal experience that the world has become obsessed with 3D printing. If you want to build things, casting, milling and stamping are just as important.

But I wouldn’t go as far as to say that 3D printing is useless, as some people sometimes do. Sooner or later, the kids that learn about this technology using $300 devices will be making artificial bones in hospitals and who knows what else.

This guy decided that what he wants to build with his printer is a jet engine that sits on his desk. More specifically, he went for the GE GEnx-1 B aviation unit that goes under the wing of the Boeing 787 liner.

Just to get things straight here, there is no internal combustion going on here. The parts look like they are printed from plastic so they would belt in seconds. An electric motor spins the turboprop, sucking air into the engine. But that’s half of what the jet engine does, and if it were attached to a model aircraft, this thrust would be enough to taxi it down the runway.

If you still think 3D printers are stupid and don’t have a future, keep reading this story. As it turns out, while this amateur was making a model of the 787 jet, General Electric, the company that makes the real one, made a fully functioning one and fired it up last year in May.

The second video below shows how it works. While it’s a little smaller than the one under the wing of a jetliner, the principle is the same. GE Aviation’s Additive Development Center outside Cincinnati put the 1-foot long by 8-inch tall (30x20cm) put jet together over several years.

Even though they don’t know what the real-world application of such a thing would be, they still revved its nuts off to 33,000rpm.

“There are really a lot of benefits to building things through additive,” says Matt Benvie, spokesman for GE Aviation. “You get speed because there’s less need for tooling and you go right from a model or idea to making a part. You can also get geometries that just can’t be made any other way.”

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