Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.
In July 2019, self-described “a GE Aviation business” Avio Aero of Turin, Italy announced that its second additive manufacturing plant had started producing parts for the then new GE Catalyst engine for the Cessna Denali light aircraft, although for reasons unknown this was not announced until August 6th. (GE Avation of Evendale, Ohio is a subsidiary of multinational conglomerate General Electric of Boston, Massachusetts.) The then new facility in Brindisi (also in Italy) was opened in December 2018, and specializes in a type of 3D printing that uses laser beams to melt and fuse powdered metal. (The technical term for this is direct metal laser melting.)
The Catalyst engine was originally scheduled to make its first test flight by the end of 2019 for the Denali’s developer Textron Aviation of Wichita, Kansas, with GE Aviation proclaiming it as “the first turboprop engine in the world to have nearly 30 percent of its internal metal parts 3D printed.” However, in October 2019 it was announced that this would not happen until an unspecified time in 2020, due to the testing of the engine taking longer than expected. Nonetheless, Textron Aviation insisted that they were more than satisfied with the engine’s development testing results thus far, and would not be drawn on when the Denali’s maiden test flight would happen.
In breaking the news, self-appointed “one of the leading websites for all types of aviation news worldwide” AINonline proclaimed that the Denali boasted: a maximum cruise speed of 285 knots (328 mph or 528 km/h); interior configurations for both passenger and cargo missions; a refreshment cabinet as an option, and a baggage compartment that was accessible in-flight. In February 2020, Avio Aero declared that the Catalyst engine’s maiden test flight was scheduled for spring 2020, albeit in a Beechcraft King Air instead of the Denali. However, it is unknown where this has gone since.
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Disclaimer: Featured image of “Allison T56 mobile test unit MCAS Futenma 1982” is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the United States Marine Corps. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.