Is the 3D printed engine a reality?

3D printing is offering a lot of possibilities for many industries, and aeronautics and aerospatial are some of them. These industries are actually making the most of this technology, both for prototyping and production. New opportunities are constantly offered to these industries with the development of new advanced technologies and materials. Many mechanical items can be created thanks to additive manufacturing, such as engine parts for an aircraft, a rocket, or a car! In this blogpost, we will discuss 3D printed engines. First, we will see how 3D printing is helping to create mechanical parts, and how it is now possible to produce a 3D printed engine, thanks to the variety of 3D printing materials available on the market. Let’s see what could be improved thanks to this technology and get ready for space exploration!

Additive manufacturing used in aerospace, aeronautics & automotive.

Why could 3D printing an engine be a great advantage?

This advanced manufacturing process can really be a great asset for engine component production. Using 3D printers for prototyping and for production has many advantages and could help you to improve your product development, optimizing volumes and performance, creating parts with intricate geometries, and great aerodynamic properties.

Prototyping with 3D printing

Additive manufacturing is known to be a good prototyping method. It is allowing the manufacturers to make many iterations at a lower cost and quite quickly. Moreover, as you have to work on CAD software to create your parts, you only have to make modifications on your 3D file if you need to change something. It will allow you to work way faster than with other processes. Optimize your prototyping process by using materials such as high-performance plastics.

Production with 3D printing

Additive manufacturing is well used for prototyping, but it is now more and more used for production, even to create mechanical parts! This manufacturing process is totally able to create viable parts for mechanical projects.

Indeed, the 3D printing technology is evolving really fast and many resistant engineering materials are now entering the market. When it comes to aerospace, aeronautics, or even automobile, it is important to have heat resistant parts, especially if you want to produce engine components. In aerospace, additive manufacturing is often used to create lightweight components. It depends on the 3D printing material that is used, but 3D printed structures can be way lighter if the design is well optimized, and if the right material is used.

3D printing becoming a trusted technology

3D printed motor projects are mostly developed in the aerospace industry for the moment, but this trend is quickly spreading to the automotive world. Materials such as metals are widely used in these demanding and technical sectors. Metal 3D printing technologies such as DMLS/SLM are perfect for these projects. But the additive manufacturing industry is now developing and putting on the market new high-performance polymers, already used in these sectors using traditional manufacturing techniques such as CNC machining or injection molding. This way, PA6 FR, PA6 MF, TPU, and Polypropylene are now 3D printable for these sectors.

NASA and the ESA are really interested in this fabrication process, they see all the benefits of this technology and how they could use it for prototyping and for the production of mechanical parts. Indeed, this technology is allowing us to work on designs, and to create complex geometries really easily. That is why this technology is beginning to be interesting for some projects, for example, to manufacture motor parts. A lot of recent NASA tests are including 3D printing technology. We will talk about the RS25 later in this blogpost!

SpaceX is also working a lot with this advanced manufacturing process. This aerospace manufacturer used 3D printing to make spaceflight hardware and actually launched a 3D printed rocket engine to space.

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