Volga | Technology & innovation | Industry, manufacturing
3D-printed aircraft engine tested in drone flight
28 Jul '20
A Russian 3D-printed gas-turbine aircraft engine designated MGTD-20 has been successfully tested in flight conditions on the premises of the Kazanbash Aviation Center in the mid-Volga region of Tatarstan.
In Russia’s first-ever such effort, this 22 kilogram*force propulsion unit is a collaborative product of the federal Advanced Research Fund (of which the closest analog in the U.S., for example, is DARPA), the Moscow-based All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Aviation Materials (VIAM in Russian), and the Simonov Aircraft Design Bureau headquartered in Kazan, in Tatarstan.
According to the Advanced Research Fund, a light drone designed by the Simonov Bureau has been used as a flying test bench. With a wingspan of three meters, the aircraft’s take-off weight is 40kg and its payload is up to 10kg.
During its test flight, the drone completed its flight plan in the autopilot mode, reaching all the areas it had been programmed to reach at an altitude of 170m and a maximum cruise speed of 154km/h, and landed problem free. The new engine operated at a maximum rotational speed of 101,600RPM.
The developers made engine components by applying the selective laser melting (SLM) method and using metal-powder compositions of refractory and aluminum alloys. They said that some of the alloys “surpass the strength of international analogs by more than 20%.”
With conventional technology, the manufacture of the engine’s key parts would have taken an estimated 20 times the amount of time it actually took in this project – and at the double cost.
The developers have plans to launch serial production of the new propulsion units next year, in 2022 at the latest.