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A Game-Changing Engine Wu’s team is now embarking on Phase II of this project, which includes redesigning some of the original components for weight reduction and possible consolidation, exploring fi n- ish requirements and dimensional tolerance issues. And then, the new engine will be tested. “We’ve still got three years to go until full engine testing,”


Wu said. Wu said the team plans to reduce six components with a goal of signifi cant weight reduction. Only one part has been redesigned so far, she said.


Wu believes the project will show that some aerospace parts


do not require such an exacting surface fi nish, which takes sub- stantial manufacturing resources to provide. Wu pointed to the combustion chamber as a component where that may be true. “In some cases, roughness even maybe helps,” Wu said. But the biggest area of opportunity in this project comes in how it may allow aerospace manufacturers to slash prod- uct development time for future engines. Currently, it takes 5 to 10 years to develop a new jet engine as components are forged, casted, machined, tested and revised. This project may hold the potential to signifi cantly speed product development time for new jet engines, shorten- ing time to as little as 3 to 5 years eventually, Wu said. Wu believes those shorter product development


One of the two 3D–printed jet engines created by the team was on display at the Avalon International Airshow in Australia, where it was unveiled to the media on Feb. 26.


“If we just replicated the parts, there isn’t any issue, but once you change parts, what’s going to happen?” Wu asked. “If we change the design, what impact can there be during engine testing?” Surface fi nish also presents interesting opportunities when working with additive.


“At this moment, almost everything is machined,” Wu said of jet engines. That means there is an ineffi ciency in produc- tion because, she said, “There is an over-machining … Not all components need to be mirror fi nished.” As part of the project, Wu said, “we need to understand what parts need to be mirror fi nished.” Those parts that do require the higher fi nish will then re- ceive postmachining using traditional subtractive manufactur- ing methods. That shows how complementary additive and subtractive technologies are, because using both methods together results in far less waste. As many in the industry know, traditional machining can sometimes result in as little as 2-3% of the original material left in the fi nal part, meaning more than 90% is cut, shaved and grinded away.


22 AdvancedManufacturing.org | April 2015


cycles are right around the corner, too. “Within the next decade,” she said. “I just came back from Eu- rope and the investment in this fi eld is astonishing.” None of these advancements, she noted, would have been possible without the amazing develop- ment of advanced fi ber lasers within the past decade. The high wattage of today’s fi ber lasers, of 400 W or more, and the direct stream of their energy zone is what has enabled this entire project. “You can now melt metal in a straight line,” Wu said. And while some people refer to this additive manufacturing method as 3D printing, Wu likens the


process more to casting, where an object is created by pour- ing molten metal into a mold. “It’s just like casting, spot by spot,” she said.


As such, she said more testing needs to be done on the mi-


crostructures of the components produced this way. “There are no shortcuts. We need to do more testing. We need to build up a database of every material, just like casting or forging.” Wu and her team are hard at work on those objectives. Engineers at Monash and its commercial arm, Amaero Engineering, are making components for several aerospace giants such as Boeing, GE, and Safran. —Editor in Chief Sarah A. Webster


ABB Announces Major US Investments


A


BB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer announced that ABB (Zurich, Switzerland) will partner with mobile telecommunications


manufacturer Ericsson (Kista, Sweden) to release a cloud data center management platform. The announcement was


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