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.

On May 15th 2020, GE Additive announced that its collaboration with GE Aviation and the US Air Force (USAF) had resulted in a 3D printed sump cover for GE Aviation’s F110 jet engine, which GE Additive described as a “technology milestone.” (GE Additive and GE Aviation are both subsidiaries of multinational conglomerate General Electric (GE) of Boston, Massachusetts. The sump cover is part of the engine’s oil lubrication system.) In mid-2019, GE Additive and GE Aviation approached USAF to propose collaborating on 3D printing metal replacement parts for USAF’s fighter planes, which would otherwise be made via casting or stamping.

GE Additive proclaimed that there were a significant number of USAF aircraft that would soon be entering their sixth decade of service, arguing that the impracticalities of sourcing and manufacturing spare parts potentially represented a significant risk. USAF and GE decided on a program that will tackle increasingly complexity parts and systems over time. The project’s first phase is already underway, and is focusing on identifying spare parts for GE Aviation’s F110 and TF34 engines, as well as demonstrating their airworthiness.

Having firsthand experience of being given impractically long lead times by the metal casting industry, GE Additive had already started investigating integrating metal 3D printing into the F110’s manufacturing process before the project began. The F110 engines is used on USAF’s F-15 and F-16 fighter planes, and with preliminary work on the F110’s sump cover finished, it unsurprisingly became the focus of the project’s first phase. The project’s next phase is already being planned, which will focus on the sump cover housing for the TF34, which has been in service for more than 40 years and powers USAF’s Fairchild Republic A-10.

3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.

Disclaimer: Featured image of “F110-GE Turbofan Engine” is a work of a U.S. Air Force Airman or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain in the United States.