The renowned aero- engine manufacturer, Rolls Royce, has built the most powerful jet engine using 3D printing technology and was successful in their first test flight this week.
Rolls Royce in its continuous efforts to increase the efficiency and reliability of the jet engine has developed this new model, Trent XWB – 97 engine, to power the larger aircraft A3350 1000. This new engine producing 97,000 lbs of thrust has several 3D printed aerofoils within the engine’s front bearing housing. Rolls-Royce and the University of Sheffield employed additive layer manufacturing (ALM) to manufacture the largest 3D printed parts, the aerofoils. The 3D printed nickel structure is a 1.5m diameter and 0.5m thick front bearing housing containing 48 aerofoils.
“It’s a great day for the whole Trent XWB team and for Rolls-Royce, a moment that the team have been working up to since we finalized the -97 design back in 2012. The Trent XWB was always designed with a higher thrust variant in mind and during the -84 development program we ran engines up to the -97 conditions to improve our understanding of the design at the higher thrust levels. We then took that experience to help optimize the core around the A350-1000 requirements, adding HP turbine technologies to maintain efficiency and time on wing from full temperatures margins. This means our customers get an engine with greater capability, but without any compromises,” explained Chief Engineer for the Trent XWB-97 Andy Gwynne.
According to the company, employing 3D printing in aerospace enables the development and design of the engine, less expensive and faster, giving them more time to experiment on the design of prototype and manufacturing light weight structures to produce more power than with conventional machining.