Rolls Royce’s IntelligentEngine vision is a manifestation of the company’s – a major AM adopter – drive towards innovation in civil aerospace. In order to convey this vision the company wanted to go beyond words and 3D videos.
Using computer-aided design and 3D printing, combined with a dash of creative inspiration and innovative thinking, Rolls Royce engineers created a unique representation of the IntelligentEngine via a 3D printed zoetrope model.
The zoetrope, a pre-film, late XIX century animation system, that 3D printing has somewhat brought back, highlights the different areas that Rolls Royce is targeting for innovation. One, of course, is 3D printing itself, by unlocking the capabilities of the gas turbine and deliver the more efficient power that global air travel demands. The UltraFan leverages a unique power gearbox and advanced manufacturing methods to offer a more compelling proposition in this area with up to 25% fuel efficiency improvement over the first generation of Trent engines.
Other key development areas portrayed in the zoetrope include electrification and higher aircraft availability. Both of these are indirectly connected with AM, for both lightweighting and on-demand spare part production.
The company is targeting hybrid-electric and fully electric solutions, introducing new electrical systems that optimise the performance of current products and open up new markets for the future. Two of Rolls Royce’s most advanced projects are ACCEL – a single-seater demonstrator project that will make an attempt on the world speed record for an all-electric aircraft and E-FanX – a hybrid-electric solution being developed in partnership with Airbus.
Availability means ensuring that every time an airline wants to use their aircraft and fly their passengers, it is available. This requires going beyond reactive maintenance and traditional ideas of predicting when engines will need servicing.