17. October 2013
When design constraints are taken away, what does the very best design for a given application look like?
One of the challenges of additive manufacturing is its freedom. Shapes can be printed that could never be produced in any practical way before. As a result, engineers are free to optimize the design of any part precisely for the needs of the application. But when the constraints are taken away, what does the very best design for a given application look like?
GE has taken an open approach to finding that answer for at least one component. We first showed the jet engine bracket seen here in this article about GE Aviation’s use of additive manufacturing. The comparison above shows the bracket as produced through machining alongside one possibility for how the bracket might be produced additively.
However, is there an additive redesign of the bracket that could perform its function with even less weight and less material cost than what is seen here?
The company recently turned that question into a contest, its Jet Engine Bracket Challenge. GE says nearly 700 design entries came from 56 countries. Ten finalists were recently announced. See the many ways that entrants proposed redesigning this bracket to try to take full advantage of what additive manufacturing might do for this part.