Anthony A. asks…

Q. I hear 3D printing is becoming more sophisticated? Is its use becoming more widespread?

A. Indeed it is. The aircraft industry seems to be the litmus test of acceptance for the strict material properties demanded for that industry. Recently, a small piece of metal that houses the compressor inlet temperature sensor inside a jet engine has become a symbol for big change in jet engine design. The housing for the sensor, known as T25, recently became the first 3D-printed part certified by the FAA to fly inside GE commercial jet engines.

According to Bill Millhaem, General Manager for the GE90 and GE9X engine programs at GE Aviation, “The 3D printer allowed us to rapidly prototype the part, find the best design, and move it quickly to production. We got the final design last October, started production, got it FAA-certified in February, and it will enter service next week. We could never do this using the traditional casting process, which is how the housing is typically made.”

So it appears 3D printing is here to stay and will only get better in material and costs.


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