Rolls-Royce is looking to use 3D printers to make lighter components for its aircraft engines, the company’s head of technology strategy has said.
Henner Wapenhans said the new technology could allow the manufacturer to produce parts more quickly, slashing lead times, the Financial Times reported.
“3D printing opens up new possibilities, new design space,” Dr Wapenhans said. “Through the 3D printing process, you’re not constrained [by] having to get a tool in to create a shape. You can create any shape you like.
“There are studies that show one can create better lightweight structures, because you just take the analogy of what nature does and how bones are built up – they’re not solid material.
“And so things that are simple things like brackets can be made a lot lighter.”
Dr Wapenhans appeared to rule out using 3D printers, which build up layers of molten plastic to create highly intricate and accurate designs, to manufacture large components for jet engines. However, he added that the parts that could be made would be done so a lot quicker.