A Romanian engineer is making serious headway in the rapidly intersecting fields of 3D printing and aerospace. Valentin Stamate, a leading researcher at the Transilvania University in Brasov, Romania, has officially unveiled his latest innovation: a 3D printed two-stroke airplane engine prototype. The first two-stroke engine to be almost entirely 3D printed, Stamate’s work constitutes a landmark in what can be achieved by additive manufacturing in the aerospace industry.
Stamate said that 3D printing the engine would be particularly advantageous to the industry, as costs could be significantly reduced from traditional manufacturing methods. “Making this engine is useful because, in the future, we could drop the manufacturing of matrices, which come with high production costs, and design the prototype with the help of the 3D printing technology. Then the series production can start,” the researcher told local press.
How and when production will actually start remains unknown, but the prototype is certainly a promising first development. The engine itself measures up at 10 cubic centimetres, and completes 10,000 rotations per minute. Almost all of the engine parts were exclusively 3D printed from steel, aluminum, and bronze and steel powders. Stamate used SLM and SLS-type systems for his work.
The only sections that were not 3D printed are the propellor, which is made of wood, as well as the cone and its fastening system, the spark, the screws and nuts, and the supporting bearings. A precise combination of methanol and oil fuels the engine. The entire project was reported to have racked up some EUR 20,000 in manufacturing costs, and all expenses were covered by Brasov University.
An up and coming star at Transilvania University, Stamate has been working as a researcher at the Romanian institution for the past four years, with a focus in the Technological Engineering and Industrial Management Faculty. Romanian press reports that Stamate gave up teaching about two years ago, in order to dedicate himself exclusively to research.
So far, that move has already been paying off for Stamate and Transilvania University. A state school located in the mid-sized Brasov, Transilvania University is one of Romania’s largest educational institutions. And with Stamate’s engine prototype already creating considerable buzz, the University is poised to get a lot bigger.
The innovation is also significant for Romania in and of itself, as it projects a strong signal that the Eastern European country is ready to become a serious contender in the international aerospace industry.