CFM International, a 50:50 venture between GE Aviation and France’s Snecma, will produce some parts for the Leap-X family of engines (earlier post) for single-aisle short-haul aircraft using an additive layer manufacturing process (ALM, earlier post) developed at GE’s Global Research Center.
The LEAP engine, part of GE’s ecomagination portfolio, is a high-bypass turbofan that is lighter in weight and with up to 15% lower fuel costs compared to current CFM models in its class. Advanced engine design also cuts noise and emissions and lowers maintenance demands.
The engines employ several types of advanced materials, including for the first time Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs). GE has been developing the material for two decades. CMCs are as tough as the best performing nickel super-alloys currently used to manufacture engines, but can operate at much higher temperatures (2,400 ⁰F), which makes the engines more efficient.
The LEAP engines will also use parts manufactured by additive layer manufacturing, allowing GE to “print” metal parts by building up the material, layer-by-layer, rather than using the traditional forging and machining process. This method gives GE designers the manufacturing freedom to engineer parts with complicated geometry and structure that improve efficiency and cut weight.
CFM is showing the LEAP-X engines during the 2012 Farnborough International Airshow, which started today. The company plans to run the first full LEAP engine tests mid-next year, and start deliveries in 2016.