General Electric is building a factory in Prague, Czech Republic that will produce a turboprop engine using 3D printed parts. Around $400 million will be spent on its development. The plant is scheduled to open in 2022 and will employ 500 people.
General Electric (GE) has been working on the Advanced Turboprop (ATP) engine for three years. For the ATP, designers have used 3D printing to merge 845 parts into just 11 components. Once finalised, the ATP will be used to power the Cessna Denali. Previously known as the Textron Single Engine TurboProp, the Cessna Denali is a single-engine turboprop aircraft.
The company has long been using individual 3D printed parts in jet engines and gas turbines. However, this particular application allows for a complex design to be made a lot more efficiently.
As well as in Prague, GE also has additive manufacturing labs in the US. Milan Slapak, a turboprop program manager praises the technology. “3D printing really is the game changer, ” he says. “It will totally change the way traditional supply chains operate and simplify them massively.”