Rolls-Royce Look to 3D Printing for Weight Savings in Aero Engines

14th November 2013

According to the Financial Times, Rolls Royce is looking to the abilities of 3D printing to create parts for its jet engines, according to Henner Wapenhans, the company’s Head of Technology Strategy.

Henner Wapenhans said the company was a “few years away” from using 3D printing technology to produce parts that go into service, which could rapidly increase the lead times of creating parts.

“3D printing opens up new possibilities, new design space. 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.”

“One of the great advantages in the aerospace world is that some of these parts that we make have very long lead times, because of the tooling process that’s got to [happen], and then it takes potentially 18 months to get the first part after placing an order – versus printing it, which could be done quite rapidly.

“Even if it takes, you know, a week to print, that’s still a lot faster.”


Rolls-Royce look to 3D printing for potential weight savings


The latest 3D printers are capable of building complex shapes from ceramics and metal, and Dr Wapenhans added that simple components, such as brackets, can be made “a lot lighter”, but said the company is looking at “individual parts that are ready to be released into serious production, as opposed to large parts of an engine.”