en.3dbaz- Over the past year, Russia has been making some serious headway in terms of advancing 3D printing technologies.
At the recent Innoprom 2016 International Industrial Trade Fair in Yekaterinburg, for instance, Russian company Rosatom unveiled the country’s first domestically made metal 3D printing system, and Russian defense firm UIMC introduced an impressive easy-to-assemble and fully 3D printed scouting drone. Now, thanks to research conducted by the All-Russian Institute of Aviation Materials (VIAM), it seems that drones could soon even be powered by 3D printed engines.
VIAM, in collaboration with the Russian defense industry Foundation for Advanced Research (FPI) has announced it will be developing a drone that can be powered by a 3D printed engine that has also been developed by VIAM and which was unveiled last month. The small-scale engine is reportedly made entirely from 3D printed parts, weighs only 900 grams, and has a thrust of 75 kilograms. According to VIAM, the 3D printed engine’s thrust could also be increased by another 75kg with only a minimal increase in mass.
VIAM, which began working with additive manufacturing technologies in 2015 for the construction of a combustion chamber swirler for an upcoming PD-14 turbofan, has found that 3D printing offers them a more precise and efficient way of manufacturing parts. For instance, using laser sintering technology and metal powder materials, VIAM has been able to produce parts 30 times faster than with traditional manufacturing methods and with a high level of precision. In terms of structure as well, 3D printing has opened to doors for what can actually be produced.
Evgeny Kablov, VIAM’s Director General explained in an interview, “The engine is made entirely on the basis of VIAM additive manufacturing using new laser sintering technology and metal powder mixes for heat-resistant and aluminum alloys, which have also been developed by the institute’s experts. We were able to print an engine with unique parameters impossible to achieve with conventional casting by using additive manufacture technology. For example, the thickness of the combustion chamber’s walls is 0.3 millimeters. Such parameters are only possible with 3D printing.”
While the 3D printed engine has itself been tested, VIAM and FPI will begin to work on developing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can be successfully powered by it. According to FPI deputy head Alexander Panfilov, once this project is complete VIAM and FPI will continue to collaborate on other projects with the goal of further advancing additive manufacturing technologies, materials, and services within Russia.