Design Engineering

Partially 3D printed jet engine powers Boeing 777X’s first flight

By DE Staff   

Additive Manufacturing Aerospace

GE Aviation’s world record setting GE9X engine helps cut fuel consumption by 10 percent due in part to its 304 additively manufactured parts.

(Photo credit: Boeing)

Everett, Washington — Boeing recently completed the first flight of its 777X, the latest of the aerospace giant’s wide-body aircraft. Combining features of the 777 and 787 Dreamliner, the company says the 777X will deliver 10 percent lower fuel use and emissions and 10 percent lower operating costs than the competition. The performance improvement is due to the aircraft’s advanced aerodynamics, latest generation carbon-fiber composite wing and GE Aviation’s high-efficiency GE9X engine.

Wider than 737 fuselage, the GE9X engine produces up to a world record setting 134,300 pounds of thrust and has the largest front fan at 134 inches in diameter. Other features include a 27:1 pressure-ratio high-pressure compressor; a third-generation low emissions TAPS III combustor; and lightweight and durable ceramic matrix composite material in the combustor and turbine.

According to GE Aviation, its turbofan engine also contains 304 additively manufactured parts within seven component assemblies, including the engine’s the fuel nozzle tip, T25 sensor housing, heat exchanger, inducer, combustor mixer and stage 5/6 low pressure turbine blades. Most of the components are printed from cobalt chromium alloy using Concept Laser’s direct metal laser melting machines.

GE Aviation says it has been designing and testing the GE9X since 2013 and has conducted 72 test flights (400 hours) of the engine. In total, the GE9X program has completed more than 4,100 hours of ground and air testing, as well as 6,500 cycles.


GE Aviation expects the engine to be certified later this year. Delivery of the first 777X is expected in 2021. According to Boeing, the program has won 340 orders to day with commitments from leading carriers around the world.


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