Curious about just how far they could take the company's additive manufacturing technology, engineers at GE Aviation's Additive Development Center in Cincinnati successfully created a simple jet engine, made entirely from 3D-printed parts, that was able to rev up to 33,000 RPM.
The additive manufacturing process that GE Aviation uses relies on a laser to melt layer after layer of metal powder until eventually a custom part is build up. It's similar to how a 3D printer like the MakerBot works, but being made from actual metal some of these parts have already been approved for use in planes by the FAA.
The miniature jet engine the engineers at GE built was actually a modified version of one you'd find in an RC model plane. As a result, it's incredibly simple and basic compared to the jet engines powering modern airliners. But the experiment helps add credence to the idea that 3D printing will eventually be used for more than just plastic trinkets. Eventually, it will become an essential part of modern manufacturing. [GE]