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A More Efficient Jet Engine Is Made from Lighter Parts, Some 3-D Printed


A new generation of engines being developed by the world’s largest jet engine maker, CFM (a partnership between GE and Snecma of France), will allow aircraft to use about 15 percent less fuel—enough to save about $1 million per year per airplane and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

The first of these new engine, called LEAP, will feature a technology that has never been used in a large-scale production jet engines before: ceramic composite materials that weigh far less than the metal alloys they’ll replace and can endure far higher temperatures. The engine will also make use of parts produced through 3-D printing, a new kind of manufacturing that can produce complex shapes that would be difficult or impossible to make with conventional manufacturing techniques (see “10 Breakthrough Technologies 2013: Additive Manufacturing”).

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