Rolls-Royce to use 3D printing technology for jet engine parts
Rolls-Royce is gearing up to use 3D printing technology to produce components for its jet engines, as a means of speeding up production and making more lightweight parts.
Henner Wapenhans, the company’s head of technology strategy, said Rolls-Royce was “a few years away” from using the technology to produce parts that go into service.
“3D printing opens up new possibilities, new design space,” Dr Wapenhans told a round-table for journalists in Dahlewitz, outside Berlin.
“Through the 3D printing process, you’re not constrained [by] having to get a tool in to create a shape. You
can create any shape
The Rolls-Royce executive said the technology could be used to reduce the weight of parts such as brackets.
He said: “There are studies that show one can create better lightweight structures, because you just take the analogy of what nature does and how bones are built up – they’re not solid material.
“And so things that are simple things like brackets can be made a lot lighter.”
He declined to give examples of other parts that could be printed, but added: “It’s more a question of individual parts that are ready to be released into serious production, as opposed to large parts of an engine.” – (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013)