GE Aviation has received official certification from the US FAA for its massive GE9X jet engine.
The GE9X just happens to be the largest jet engine ever developed. To illustrate the massive size of this engine, it is the same width as the fuselage of a Boeing 737 aircraft! The GE9X is intended for use on new versions of the Boeing 777X series.
The GE9X is also ten percent more efficient than its predecessors and competitors. This beast produces more than 100,000lbs (45,000kg) of thrust, making it similarly powerful.
Why is this event of interest to us at Fabbaloo? It’s because several of the key components used in the GE9X were in fact 3D printed. This work, along with other technological advances, allowed the GE9X engine to be so efficient and lightweight.
GE Aviation says:
“Huge doesn’t have to mean heavy. GE engineers 3D-printed six of the engine’s components and used advanced carbon fiber composites that are tough but lighter than titanium, reducing weight and cutting the number of fan blades from 22 to 16, compared with the GE90.”
While the GE9X cannot be said to be “entirely” 3D printed, the technology certainly contributed greatly to the success of the project. And that is perhaps the lesson for other manufacturers.
GE has long been a believer in 3D printing, having been one of the first major manufacturers to pursue the use of complex geometries in their metal parts using 3D printing techniques. They were so successful that they even acquired not one, but two metal 3D printer manufacturers to bring into the GE family, forming the GE Additive line of business.
The certification announcement is important because it demonstrates that GE Aviation was able to take their belief in additive manufacturing from concept to reality and finally “cross the finish line”.
Their commitment to the technology and subsequent experimentation enabled GE Aviation to produce a fantastic product that will no doubt succeed in the market — the company has already received over 600 orders for the GE9X. This suggests that it is indeed possible to use additive manufacturing in a profitable way.
For other companies observing this sequence of events, now is the time to get into 3D printing technologies. Several companies beyond GE have proven the value in their domains, and perhaps it could also be of immense value in yours.
Via GE Aviation