A small piece of aviation’s future may have had its genesis right here in Sydney’s inner west. Drummoyne local Nic Adams is a finalist in the GE Open Innovation Jet Engine Bracket Design Quest.
It’s one of several design competitions run through the GrabCAD online design community, which helps companies interact with enthusiasts, and allows designers and engineers to showcase their design portfolios.
A jet engine bracket must support the weight of the engine during handling, without breaking or warping.
Mr Adams’ brackets became increasingly sophisticated in order to compete with other designers who were locked in a friendly arms race to achieve lighter models.
His final design takes its inspiration from organic forms.
“My inspiration was thinking about how a tree would grow around the bolt holes into the load point … keeping smooth curves to disperse stress concentrations,” Mr Adams said.
His successful entry resulted in an 80 per cent reduction in weight from the original design – and although weighing less than 400 grams, is designed to withstand a load of almost 4,000 kilograms.
Mr Adams’ design was selected in the top ten out of an initial field of 683 entries from some of the world’s most talented 3D designers.
During the next phase, the finalists’ designs will be manufactured with cutting-edge technology that uses 3D printing to deposit layers of micrometre thick titanium.
These bracket designs include organic surfaces and internal cavities that are impossible to manufacture with conventional casting techniques. The final brackets are then tested to determine which design performs best under stress, with a cash prize given to the top three finalists.
Mr Adams studied mechatronic engineering at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and now works as a field service engineer with a company that specialises in automating pathology laboratories in hospitals.
The competition’s second phase ends on November 15.
By Brandon Nelson