Tiefensee Visits Rolls-Royce Aircraft Engine Plant

As energy technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, the distinction between pure-play energy companies and technology companies becomes increasingly blurred. Whether it’s drilling technology, energy storage, wind turbine advancement, increased solar panel efficiency or power plant design – just to name a few cutting-edge fields – companies commercializing these advanced energy systems are adding computer scientists and other specialists to their pay rolls like never before.

To be sure, technology is not the only answer to the world’s complex energy and environmental challenges. Sound policy, functional markets, access to capital, rule of law and numerous other factors play important roles, but the power of technological advancement cannot be ignored.

This GE announcement serves as an interesting example of the trend. The industrial conglomerate will use 3D printing to mass produce jet engine nozzles at a new factory opening next year in Alabama. “The nozzles are five times more durable than the previous model. 3D printing allowed engineers to design them as one part rather than 20 individual parts, reducing the number of brazes and welds that would have been necessary using traditional methods,” according to a statement.

“We need to have systems in place that anticipate a failure before it happens,” says Steve Rengers, principal engineer for additive manufacturing at GE Aviation. “This has not been done before.”

An explanatory video and graphics can be viewed in the original post.