Australia's Monash University has produced a full-sized auxiliary power unit using 3D printing, and intends to test individual components in a real engine.

The engine, which the university displayed at its stand at the Avolon air show, is a replica of Safran's Sapphire APU for the Dassault Falcon 20 private jet.

Given that this is an old design, with no modern computerised drawings available, univeristy researchers needed to carefully analyse engine components before embarking on the printing process.

Two units were printed. One appeared at the show, while the other is at Safran's Microturbo unit in Toulouse, France. Materials used in the printing process included titanium, aluminum, and nickel alloy.

Overall, 14 major components were printed. A Monash representative says the individual parts will eventually be tested in real conditions, but there is no timeframe for this work.

The entire project took one year, and the printing of a single engine takes about one month.

Researchers claim that this is the first time an entire aircraft engine has been printed. There hope is that printing could one day become an effective way of producing fully functional aero engines.

Source: Flight International