Aircraft designing gets 3D boost at Masdar City's GE Centre

Aircraft designing gets 3D boost at Masdar Citys GE Centre

“Historically, design has always been a little bit ahead of manufacturing. You can always imagine or design something that is really difficult, or impossible to make.”



by

Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Published: Fri 26 Jun 2015, 11:32 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:09 PM

A 3D designer shows how 3D printing and design works at the ge ecomagination office in abu Dhabi. — Photo by Dhes Handumon

Dubai — 3D printing technology is revolutionising the aviation industry by providing lighter, simpler design and more intricate design features, according to experts from the GE Ecomagination Centre in Abu Dhabi’s low-carbon, eco-friendly Masdar City.

In an interview with the Khaleej Times, GE Field Service Engineer Bryan Hodgson said that 3D printing technology allows parts manufacturers to construct items that wouldn’t have been possible before.

“Historically, design has always been a little bit ahead of manufacturing. You can always imagine or design something that is really difficult, or impossible to make,” he said.

“Now design teams are learning that they can do things that they have never done before, but always wanted to, and the manufacturing teams are able to take those designs and really get an organic feel to how they’re manufactured.”

3D manufactured parts have already  been successfully installed in the newly designed CFM LEAP aircraft engine, which uses 19 3D-printed nozzles in its combustion system. These nozzles were found to be 25 per cent lighter than its predecessors, as well five times more durable.

“The direct translation is specific fuel consumption. These engines are going to be more efficient and hopefully more reliable as well. These engines will be better for the airlines,” Hodgson said.

Additionally, Hodgson noted that 3D manufacturing has significantly less environmental impact than traditional methods.

“Your old style of manufacturing is gigantic mills, huge grinding machines. Not only the tool, which is made of metal, is wearing away, but also the pieces that you’re machining. In that process, you’re using coolants, oil, and water. There’s a lot that goes into manufacturing parts,” he said.

“But in 3D printing, you use less material. It’s a weight saver, which is what an airline looks for. The material that is untouched can be re-used, so the less use of materials is going to make a big impact.”

“In the future, engines most likely will have 3D printed parts,” he added.

Founded in 2014, the Ecomagination Centre, which has a partnership with the Mubadala Development Company, aims to find ways to solve energy, efficiency, transportation and water challenges through technology and advanced manufacturing techniques.

bernd@khaleejtimes.com


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