The use of additive manufacturing aka 3D printing for production took another step forward this week with news that the LEAP-1C jet engine has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Association (EASA).
The revolutionary integrated propulsion system is built by CFM, a joint venture between GE and Safran. The engine is the powerplant for the Comac (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) C919 single-aisle jetliner.
3D printing and other advanced manufacturing techniques were used to build the LEAP-1C and other members of the LEAP engine family. Specifically the engine features 3D printed fuel nozzles. The LEAP-1B and LEAP-1A are the powerplants for the Boeing’s 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo.
According to CFM, the LEAP-1C will lead to a “15% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions versus current engines, a 50% cut in NOx emissions, and compliance with the most stringent noise standards (the ICAO’s Chapter 14 regulations).”
GE have reportedly taken more than 8,500 orders for the LEAP engines, an order backlog valued at $135 billion. Each engine will use 19 fuel nozzles, undoubtedly a motivating factor in the company’s acquisition of Arcam AB and Concept Laser.
Concept Laser acquisition proceeding as planned
It was also announced this week that GE executed the agreement to acquire a 75% stake in Concept Laser. With headquarters in Lichtenfels, Germany the company has 200 employees and are the manufacturers of the patented LaserCUSING® powder-bed-based-laser melting metal 3D printing technique.
GE Vice President for Additive Integration, Mohammad Ehteshami said, “GE has made significant long-term commitments to both Arcam and Concept Laser to enhance their complementary technologies.” The spokesperson added, “Both companies are important players in the growing additive manufacturing movement, and are foundational to GE’s journey into this revolutionary manufacturing space.”
3D printed fuel nozzles also feature in the GE9X engine that will serve as the powerplant for Boeing’s new 777X aircraft. This will be the largest engine ever built by the company.
We are now accepting nominations for the 1st Annual 3D Printing Industry Awards, so please follow this link to tell us about the most interesting applications of additive manufacturing.
Featured image show testing of the GEnx engine. Photo via GE Aviation.