Safran uses 3D printed parts in new 3000 shp Aneto helicopter engine

The French aerospace company has launched its Aneto 1-k helicopter engine at the Helitech international in London. The Aneto engine brand, which takes its name from the highest mountain in the Pyrenees, features 3D printed parts and will be used by Leonardo to power its AgustaWestland AW189K helicopter.

The news follows the European Aerospace Safety Agency’s (EASA) approval of Safran’s 3D printed metal turbine nozzle earlier this year, which was used in Leonardo’s previous AW189 helicopter.

3D printing essential components

As part of its Tech 3000 innovation program, Safran has developed a number of internal 3D printed components. These include a “gyratory” combustion chamber with 3D-printed injectors made from heat resistant materials, a new inlet guide-vane system, and diffuser vanes with 3D-printed internal components.

With the introduction of additive manufacturing into the engine building process, Safran states that the Aneto will have a 25% power-to-weight ratio improvement over engines with a similar volume, and a 15% fall in operating costs. This is partly because the engine will necessitate fewer scheduled maintenance tasks and longer maintenance intervals.

Gian Piero Cutillo, managing director at Leonardo Helicopters stated, “we are pleased that the AW189K will be the first helicopter to feature an Aneto engine. This new turboshaft engine will offer our customers a high level of performance and further extend the capabilities and versatility of our super medium platform, particularly in hot & high conditions.” Leonardo expects the helicopter AW189K to be certified for flight by late next year.

A cross section of the Aneto 1-K engine. Image via Safran.
A cross section of the Aneto 1-K engine. Image via Safran.

3D printing revolutions per minute

Safran has previously formed an investment partnership with French 3D printer company Prodways, to print aircraft and defence components.

The manufacturer has also entered a partnership with Australia’s Monash university to investigate 3D printed components. Rival turbo-machinery company Man Diesel & Turbo began 3D printing guide vanes earlier this year.

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Featured image shows a Leonardo AW189K helicopter, specially built to accommodate the Aneto 1-k engine. Photo via Safran.