3D printing technology is beginning to have a great impact on the world today and the aerospace industry is a prime example. Earlier this year we saw the first example of a 3D printed jet engine, now GE has announced the first 3D printed part certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a commercial jet engine.
While GE has been using 3D printing technology for multiple parts of the past months and years, the housing for a sensor known as T25 will be the first part to be commercially used on an aircraft. Approximately the size of a fist, the silver metal container houses the compressor inlet temperature sensor of a jet engine. An amazing first step in the advancement of industrial 3D printing if you ask us.
The 3D printed component is made from a cobalt-chrome ally that protects the delicate sensor from icing and airflows inside the engine. 3D printing has proven to be much quicker according to GE Aviation Bill Millhaem. “We got the final design last October, started production, got it FAA certified in February, and will enter service next week. We could never do this using the traditional process. Program Manager for this 3D printing project, Jonathan Clarke, said that this process is not only faster, but it also provides parts with superior material properties. They are also far more complex in their design, and they result in little to no wasted material during production. “Once we found a workable solution, it went straight to production. This technology is a breakthrough,” he said. According to GE, making a prototype of the T25 would have taken a year longer using conventional methods.
Although this is the first part to go up into the skies, GE is already working on getting a series of other parts approved. GE is now working with Boeing to retrofit over 400 of its GE90B engines, used on the modern 777 with the new 3D printed part.