Printing in metal

Australia’s pioneering 3D metal printing technology is now at work in Toulouse, printing components for the French aerospace company, Safran Power Units.

3D printing has the potential to transform manufacturing, allowing rapid prototyping of components, and the creation of lighter and more efficient components that would be impossible to make using traditional casting technologies. But there are many challenges to overcome to ensure that the components meet the intense engineering and regulatory requirements of the aerospace industry.

In 2015 Australian engineers gained international attention when they revealed the world’s first printed jet engine at the Melbourne International Airshow. The engine was a Safran Power Units gas turbine from a business jet and it was printed by a consortium of Monash University, Safran Power Units, CSIRO, Deakin University, and Amaero, a company spun out of Monash University to bring the new technologies to business.

The team started the qualification process for production in 2017 and have now achieved qualification. This is a major step in commercial production of components for auxiliary power units and turbojet engines.

“Safran Power Units supported us from the beginning of our journey. We proved that our team were world leaders,” says Professor Xinhua Wu, Director of the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing.

“I’m delighted to see our technology leap from the laboratory to a factory at the heart of Europe’s aerospace industry in Toulouse,” Professor Wu says.

Banner Image: Professor Xinhua Wu and her team are 3D printing jet engines. Credit: Monash University