Recent advances in materials technology, manufacturing processes, and analytical supercomputing have facilitated the creation of jet-engine fan blades that are significantly stronger, tougher, and quieter than previous iterations. This single fan blade comes from the GE90-115B, one of the largest and most powerful jet engines in the world. The engine contains twenty-two fan blades, each of which is four feet long and weighs less than fifty pounds.
Composite technology has allowed GE to design a uniquely formed curved blade that is lighter, more aerodynamic, and larger than traditional titanium blades. The GE90-115B blade is made of carbon fiber and a toughened epoxy matrix, a composite material that is extremely flexible yet highly resistant to impact. Designed using three-dimensional aerospace computer modeling technology, the blade is able to draw a massive amount of air into the engine while operating at a low noise level. The GE90-115B fan blade is a powerful fusion of cutting-edge engineering and design, and its astonishingly beautiful undulating form is a pure expression of its aerodynamic function. Its inclusion in MoMA's collection continues a tradition started in 1934 with the exhibition Machine Art, in which advanced airplane propellers were shown together with coils, ball bearings, and other machine parts of equally honest beauty.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 175.