Aussies 3D print jet engine in world first

Australian scientists have created a 3D-printed jet engine, with the world-first breakthrough being tipped to result in advanced manufacturing opportunities.

Engineers from Monash and Deakin universities and the CSIRO have printed two gas turbine engines modelled on an "auxiliary power unit" used in aircraft like the Falcon 20, a French business jet.

One of the printed engines is currently on display at the Avalon International Airshow in Victoria, while the other is being displayed in France.

Xinhua Wu, from the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing, said creating the engines was a painstaking process.

"We took the engine to pieces and scanned the components. Then we printed two copies. It was a complex project that took a year," Wu said in a statement on Thursday.

The scientists are confident that the breakthrough will lead to more advanced manufacturing work in Australia, and say the "proof of concept" has already created opportunities for local firms.

"No one has printed an entire engine commercially yet," said Ben Batagol from Amaero Engineers, the Monash University company making the technology available to Australian industry.

"The project is a spectacular proof of concept that's leading to significant contracts with aerospace companies," Batagol added.

After three decades of relative obscurity, 3D printing is becoming a much talked-about area of technology.

Computer giant Hewlett-Packard has announced that it will put an ultra-fast 3D printer on the market by 2016.

General Electric and Boeing have also expressed interest in the technology.