The aviation company Pratt & Whitney is exploring whether technology known as additive manufacturing could be used to develop more compact jet engines that could make commercial airplanes lighter and more fuel efficient.+

Pratt & Whitney already uses two additive manufacturing techniques to make some engine components. Instead of casting metal in a mold, the methods involve forming solid objects by partially melting a metal powder with either a laser or an electron beam. Other aircraft makers use similar technology; GE, for example, creates fuel nozzles for jet engines using its own additive manufacturing techniques (see “Breakthrough Technologies 2013: Additive Manufacturing”).

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