CFM International is using 3D-printed components in their jet engines, leading to an overall fuel efficiency increase of 15%
CFM International is the world's largest manufacturer of jet engines for commercial airliners. Earlier this month, the company announced that it had decided on the final configuration of parts for their LEAP-1B engines, which are used in Boeing's 737 MAX airliners. The engines will contain 3D printed parts, which according to CFM will increase fuel efficiency by as much as 15%. So far, 1,185 planes have been ordered which will be equipped with the new engine, and CFM is expecting to complete initial tests by the middle of next year.
A closeup view of a powder being sintered into a solid
The LEAP-1B is one of three models in the LEAP lineup: The LEAP-1A is a larger version of the engine, while the LEAP-1C is smaller. All three though, use 3D-printed parts which are sintered from metallic powders with the use of lasers. Sintering is a process which makes use of atomic diffusion to create objects from powders. GE, which co-owns CFM International together with French aerospace company Snecma, has said that by 2020, as much as 10,000 jet engine components may be manufactured using sintering. This prediction by GE comes shortly after they acquired several 3D-printing companies.