Girls in STEM

Update: Spotlight School Success

Update: Spotlight School Success

SUCCESS! Since electing Liberty Elementary School as our Spotlight School, we have come to adore the Liberty family more and more each day.  T

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Search articles, videos and updates on 3D Printing and its growing presence in our world

Girls in STEM

WATCH: Ms. Houck's TEACHER FEATURE

WATCH: Ms. Houck's TEACHER FEATURE

This week, we bring you a short video on a STEM'tastic educator! Scroll down to WATCH this educator doing what she does best - teachi

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Cool Vid: 3D Printing for K-12 Education

Cool Vid: 3D Printing for K-12 Education

Watching super cool EDUCATIONAL videos from across the web is one of our favorite pastimes! Join us in learning more about 3D printing in the clas

Science and Math

'Tis the Season for STEM

'Tis the Season for STEM

'Tis the season for GINGERBREAD and working the delicious treat into your family - and CLASSROOM - fun. Last week, as students across the

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3D Printed Jet Engine Nozzles Manufacturing Debate

By Staff Writter

3D Printed Jet Engine Nozzles Manufacturing Debate

Engineering

The advent of 3D printed jet engine nozzles is here, even if it raises new debates about two opposting levels of manufacturing. You've likely heard plenty about additive manufacturing as the main drive toward getting 3D printers into the mainstream. Even the White House has invested heavily in getting additive manufacturing into overdrive so it can help create everything from automotive parts to prosthetic limbs.

While the above is already being done and helping many people, printing jet engine nozzles is a more complex endeavor in 3D printing. Even if additive manufacturing may become a household term, many don't associate traditional manufacturing with the words subtractive manufacturing. It's the latter where creating jet nozzles is being argued to be more reliable, at least in the immediate term.

This additive vs. subtractive manufacturing debate started recently through a report in Forbes about 3D printers creating jet engine nozzles. It places a debate about how far 3D printing should go in manufacturing specific mechanical parts.

GE's Role in Leading the Way

When GE managed to start printing jet engine nozzles through additive manufacturing, it took them a decade to help perfect their printing technique. While they've successfully printed the nozzles, it's a complicated process of formulation between the metal powder and laser sintering on the printer. It has to be carefully monitored to assure nothing goes wrong, which can be a potential cost burden for most companies.

With GE having the resources available to invest in the above, they've helped lead the way in letting jet engine nozzles become a part of the additive manufacturing renaissance. Regardless, how far do we have to go before it becomes a mainstream endeavor in aerospace manufacturing?

Subtractive Manufacturing May Hang Around a While

As noted in the above Forbes report, subtractive manufacturing for aerospace parts has become quite expensive when compared to 3D printing. Conversely, additive manufacturing isn't quite as accurate at creating nozzles as traditional manufacturing is.

Because of this debate, there could be a bit of a waiting period ahead on assuring additive manufacturing becomes more accurate in printing aerospace parts. Right now, more thorough inspections need to be done when a nozzle is printed to assure the proper dimensions were adhered to. Scanning can sometimes help, despite the extra expense involved in purchasing scanners.

Regardless of these threats, additive manufacturing is here to stay and evolving nearly every month into something greater. Before the end of the decade, those accuracy issues will likely be solved. In the meantime, it could be sped up a little more with some investments in better quality control to assure printer accuracy.