Print it! Flying on an airplane with 3D printed parts

Today we are taking our Print It! series to the sky where a group of designers, engineers and big companies are working hard to take the 3D printing process to a whole new level.

Many people still struggle with the idea of “printing” things by adding one layer of material on top of another, but Michael Idelchik, who runs GE’s advanced technologies research, is already talking about “printing large portions of jet engines.”

A full aircraft engine is still a tall order but printed jet engine parts are already here. The newest GE jet engines like the CFM LEAP, which GE Aviation makes in a joint venture with France’s Snecma, will have printed combustion system components and other parts inside. Michael Idelchik, who runs GE’s advanced technologies research, has stated that he and his colleagues already know this it is possible, so now it is a case of honing the process.

“Now we want to develop an ecosystem of designers, engineers, materials scientists, and other partners who can learn with us. We have a number of products that we are going to be launching and we want to challenge people to get into business with us. If the ecosystem grows, the entire industry will grow,” Mr Idelchik remarked.

GE recently announced a pair of global “additive manufacturing quests” challenging innovators and entrepreneurs to design a light-weight bracket and hangers for a jet engine.


3D Printing Design Quest

  • Participants will create the best 3D-printable design for an aircraft engine bracket.
  • The top ten designs will win $1,000 each and will be additively manufactured and tested by GE during phase two.
  • The top 8 designs in the second phase will be awarded from a total prize pool of $20,000.
  • GE has partnered with GrabCAD to launch the design quest. During the quest, GrabCAD’s online community of more than 650,000 global engineers will have a chance to submit their CAD design solutions to a panel including some of GE’s brightest engineers.
  • Today, creative makers worldwide are invited to apply here.

Mr Idelchik explained: “You need to understand software and creative design, the unique properties of the printing machines, and meet the functional requirements of the parts like strength and the ability to handle vibrations”

Are you submitting your design? What do you think about using additive manufacturing in the airplane industry?


Print it! More on the magic of 3D printing

Last week we talk about the benefits, concepts and development of 3D printing. We learned that:

  • Charles Hull is the inventor of the modern 3D printer
  • The first published account of a printed solid model was made in 1981 by Hideo Kodama of Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute
  • Printer resolution describes layer thickness and X-Y resolution in dpi (dots per inch),or micrometers

Today we will talk more about this topic, we will see one of the cases that are trending in the 3D printing arena.

Industries and big companies are taking advantage of 3D printing. We all know that this is a decades-old technology that has increased in popularity over the past few years as the prices of printing machines and materials have come down. A big, solid company like Ford is using 3D printing to cut costs and production times during the prototyping phase.

The  “rapid manufacturing” process has played a key role in the production of the Explorer and its EcoBoost engine. It uses software to render photos into designs that can “print” physical objects.

Ford uses the technology to create prototype parts like:

  • cylinder heads
  • brake rotors
  • rear axels

Production time for one type is cut down from four to five months to three in some cases, shaving 25% to 40% off production time. Earlier casting methods required that the mold be cut from sand; 3D printing allows Ford to skip the cutting process and pour the metal directly into the molds.

With 3-D’s rapid evolution, including possible home use, Ford aficionados can dream of one day custom-making their own creative part  in their garage or home office. Ford believes that in the future customers will be able to print replacement parts for their vehicles at a local 3D printer in a matter of hours or even minutes.

How cool will be to be able to print your own car parts? Would you do it?

Print it! The magic of 3D printing

An ear replacement? Print it

A replacement for you car taillight? Print it

Your wedding dress, picture frames, furniture or maybe, a bone?  Print it

3D Printer

3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. The product is achieved using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material. This practice is considered distinct from traditional techniques (subtractive processes) which mostly rely on the removal of material by drilling, cutting etc.


A materials printer usually performs 3D printing processes using digital technology. Since the start of the twenty-first century there has been a large growth in the sales of these machines, and their price has dropped substantially.

The technology is used for both prototyping and distributed manufacturing in jewelry, footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction, automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries, education, geographic information systems, civil engineering, and many other fields.

3d shoes

Some facts

  • Charles Hull is the inventor of the modern 3D printer
  • The first published account of a printed solid model was made in 1981 by Hideo Kodama of Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute
  • Printer resolution describes layer thickness and X-Y resolution in dpi (dots per inch),or micrometres.

3D Printing is a technology that’s been around for a while but lately, with price reduction and mass accessibility, they are developing fast and a vast array of people are using it for many different purposes. In the next couple weeks we will se various commercial and personal uses people are giving to 3D printing.

What would you print if you had a 3D printer?