Sailor builds DIY jet engine at home

A sailor has used the skills taught to him as a Royal Navy engineer to build his own miniature jet engine.

Trainee marine engineer Ryan Bruno used 3D printing technology to produce the parts – then called on his three years of training to produce the tiny working gas turbine.

Ryan spent five years as a Royal Marine with 43 Commando, who safeguard the nation’s nuclear deterrent, and 1 Assault Group (recently renamed 47 Commando).

It was his time working on landing craft with the latter – side-by-side with RN engineers who maintain the vessels – which prompted the green beret to switch careers.

The cameras will work hand-in-hand with the recently procured mobile network radios that MarWorks have been trialling with 40 Commando and Advanced Force Operations.

Their feed can be live streamed over the network to marines on the ground in order to provide greater situational awareness and help in making decisions. It can also be fed to other members of the team to see on smart devices or, if required, to anyone working off-site.

Dave McInerney, MarWorks programme manager, said: “This sort of challenge is exactly why technology accelerators such as MarWorks were established.

“We take a problem from the user community, try and find an affordable technical solution, if it is off-the-shelf then great but when it’s not quite there we are able to work with industry, big and small, to develop a solution that meets the users’ need.” 

As part of Future Commando Force experimentation, MarWorks had helped set up a tactical IP network, opening the doors for new equipment and technology to be introduced to Royal Marines operating on the ground.

Colonel Mark Totten, FCF programme director, called the cameras fantastic. “Every Royal Marine should have one,” he added.

Building the gas turbine was an interesting project - a great learning experience which allowed me to learn more about 3D computer-aided design and explore new materials and processes. It also highlights how 3D printing technology provides the ability to produce complicated functioning components in your own home.

Ryan Bruno

“The knowledge and hand skills gained at Sultan also enabled me to understand how to construct it and fault find, enabling the project to run smoothly.”

As things stand, the mini jet is not a practical engine, rather a demonstrator first step. There’s little thrust due to the materials used, and the nozzle guide vanes – which direct the flow of air on to the turbine blades – only have a life span of about 45 minutes.

So when he gets the chance, Ryan hopes to re-build his engine using metals – and include a few improvements to boot.

For now, however, the leading hand is focusing on his first job as a qualified marine engineer – maintaining the very same landing craft he used to operate when he joins Britain’s flagship, assault ship HMS Albion, based in Plymouth.

Pictures by Petty Officer (Photographer) Nicola Harper