MTU Aero Engines has revealed that it established a dedicated department for additive manufacturing earlier this year, in an effort to increase use of the technology.
The new department, at MTU's Munich headquarters, covers around 30 design engineers, structural mechanics, process specialists and operations scheduling experts, the German engine specialist says.
Chief operating officer Lars Wagner states: "By pulling all activities – from design to technology development and all the way to production – together in one unit, we want to maintain and build our competitive edge." He adds that the further development of additive manufacturing has "top priority" and that the company is pursuing "numerous technology projects" in the field.
Under the EU’s Clean Sky programme, MTU currently works on a process to manufacture a seal carrier through 3D printing, which will include an integral honeycomb structure and is to be installed in high-pressure compressors.
Bearing houses, brackets and struts will be produced through additive manufacturing in the future, says MTU.
The manufacturer foresees that "at least" 15% of entire engines will be produced through 3D printing by 2030.
The company says it employs selective laser melting for additive manufacturing, and produces borescope bosses for Pratt & Whitney's PW1100G geared turbofan – which powers some Airbus A320neo-family jets – through the technology today.
Additive manufacturing enables production of "complex components that are extremely difficult, if not impossible to manufacture using conventional methods", MTU notes. Furthermore, the technology "opens the door to entirely new designs", reduces development and production lead times, and "brings down production costs".