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Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT and the Digital Additive Production (DAP) department at RWTH Aachen University are working on a new process chain for the production of blade integrated discs (blisks) using 3D printing. Blisks consist in part of nickel-based superalloys, which are difficult to machine, which, in turn, means that the production of blade profiles using conventional milling methods has, until now, been time-consuming and costly. Printing the profiles in 3D using the LPBF (laser powder bed fusion) additive process, on the other hand, achieves a result close to the final contour, meaning very little excess material has to be removed from the manufacturing process. Grid structures support the thin-walled components of the blisks and prevent vibrations during post-processing, which results in the more economical production of small, complex engines.

In the meantime, many other technologies are ready to take off, with the aim of making 3D printing affordable for mass-production applications , too.