General Electric (GE ) has manufactured a demonstrator to validate 3D printed parts for the Advanced Turboprop (ATP) engine. It is made of 35% additive parts and will power the new Cessna Denali single-engine turboprop aircraft.
With the additive manufacturing of major parts of this engine, GE aims to make 3D printing essential to aerospace technology. The lightweight components of the engine will result in 5% reduction in weight. It will also provide a 1% improvement in specific fuel consumption (SFC), justifying the production of the engine as 3D printed.
The ATP design has 3D printed metal parts which reduce the weight, optimize the topological structures, and reduce the connecting parts. Bolts, welds, and other connecting interfaces are used minimally which lead to less weight of the engine. Gordon Follin the ATP engineering GM at GE said that lesser use of interfaces will optimize the design of the parts.
The demonstrator CT7-2E1, mentioned above, was developed in 18 months to test the validity of the ATP. This demonstrator has been reverse engineered from an existing C17 where 900 parts have been reduced to 16 parts. The parts have been successfully tested and incorporated into the ATP.
This ATP will power the Cessna Denali single-engine turboprop aircraft, which will feature more 3D printed parts than any other production engine in aviation. About 12 parts are made from additive manufacturing which comprises 35% of the total part count. 3D printed parts include exhaust case, sumps, bearing housings, frames combustor liner, heat exchangers, and stationary flow path parts.
The team of eight engineers who designed the 3D printed fuel nozzle tip of the CFM LEAP engine have now designed the demonstrator for C17. For ATP’s, reduced testing time is a major boon. Designers can test products and utilize the iteration for the designing of the next product. The Cessna Denali, which will be powered by the new ATP, will be aired by 2017.