Autodesk Gallery Exhibit: Lightweight, High-Performance Airplane Engine


The Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco celebrates design — the process of taking a great idea and turning it into a reality. With about 60 different exhibits regularly on display that showcase the innovative work of Autodesk customers, the gallery illustrates the role technology plays in great design and engineering. Autodesk Gallery Ambassadors conduct gallery tours as a sideline to their day jobs. The tours provide employees with opportunities to practice public speaking in front of small groups.

The Lightweight, High-Performance Airplane Engine exhibit is one of the first exhibits that you see when you exit the elevators on the 2nd floor of our One Market office in San Francisco:



South Africa's ADEPT Airmotive created its 320T airplane engine weighing 60 kilograms (132 pounds) less (approximately one-third as heavy) than a traditional piston engine of comparable power. With Inventor at the heart of ADEPT's digital prototyping process, a three-person core team created the lighter, more fuel efficient, and more eco-friendly spark ignition engine in less than two years, while streamlining processes, reducing costs, and producing far fewer physical prototypes. The ADEPT engine is unique in its industry, using a 120 degree, V6 configuration that relies on customized design of individual components, as well as specialized tools. The compact design offers low vibration levels and high structural integrity. Digital models helped to confirm design decisions, fit, and function. ADEPT designers produced engine molds directly from digital 3D models and were able to test complex components before manufacturing costly production tooling, significantly reducing operation and service costs.


The 320T drives the propeller through an integrated PSRU (propeller speed reduction unit) that allows the engine to rev higher, thereby increasing efficiency. At the same time, each piston stroke is much shorter than in a conventional engine, so the piston travels less distance for each engine revolution. This low piston velocity and the reduced mass of the moving components improve reliability and longevity.


Here's an internal video that our gallery curator, Jason Medal-Katz, uses as part of the ambassador training program:

The engine runs on aviation fuel, automotive gasoline, or bio fuel. With regard to the bio-fuel capability, when I lead a tour of second graders, I say that "the engine runs on airplane fuel, gasoline like what goes in your family car, or dog poop." That always elicits an "Ewww!" response.

Thanks to the Autodesk Gallery team for the descriptive text for this blog post.

The Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is a guided tour on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm and a self-guided audio tour available anytime. Admission is free. Visit us.

Flight is alive in the lab.