GE as the World’s Largest ‘Additive’ Machine

General Electric (GE) has been advancing additive manufacturing  (AM) technologies for over 20 years. Recent events include the launch of two Open Invitation manufacturing quests, that have invited entrepreneurs, companies and institutions to offer their solutions to two challenges; to testing of the LEAP-1A engine, with additively manufactured fuel nozzles.

Continuing the quest for greater insight about additive manufacturing, AMazing® turned to GE.  The search yielded an in-depth interview with two distinguished leaders from GE, Greg Morris and Todd Rockstroh, Ph.D. Literally. GE Additive, a new GE business dedicated to supplying 3D printers, materials and engineering consulting services, announced today it is developing the world’s largest laser-powered 3D printer that prints parts from metal-powder.

The printer will be able to make parts that fit inside a cube with 1-meter sides. “The machine will 3D print aviation parts suitable for making jet engine structural components and parts for single-aisle aircraft,” said Mohammad Ehteshami, vice president and general manager of GE Additive. “It will also be applicable for manufacturers in the automotive, power, and oil and gas industries.”

As the Business Development Leader for Additive Manufacturing at GE Aviation, Greg Morris develops the roadmap and strategy for additive technologies within GE Aviation. Todd Rockstroh, consulting engineer at GE Aviation, has been with GE Aviation for 27 years and is an award-winning engineer focusing on special process control, laser material processing and smart machining.

Read More

Airbus bring 3D into serial production

But why is 3D printing so important? Weight reduction is the holy grail of aerospace engineering: Every kilogram saved prevents 25 tons of COemissions during the lifespan of an aircraft. Parts produced by additive layer manufacturing (ALM), also known as 3D printing, weigh up to 55 per cent less while reducing raw material used by up to 90 per cent. Decarbonisation is the reason why the aerospace industry and Airbus are leading the charge in 3D printing. The speed at which these parts can be manufactured through 3D printing gives less overstock and overhead when creating these customized pieces.

Direct production with Additive Manufacturing had a crucial benefit for Airbus: the lead time. For small-batch series and customized parts, additive technologies offer a drastically faster time-to-market than conventional manufacturing as prior tool-production is not required.

The panels are Airbus’ first cabin parts with full bionic design certification, a successful result of Airbus’ ongoing efforts to optimize part weight. Compared with the original design, intended for conventional production methods, the 3D-printed panels are 15% lighter. In conventional manufacturing, additional complexity would mean higher  cost. However, with 3D Printing, complex internal structures like lattices do not create additional cost. Airbus was therefore able to realize lightweight bionic panels and achieve the optimal mass for the component.

The progress made by the aerospace industry highlights the technology’s potential for manufacturing in the EU. With one caveat: Assuming that Europe can quickly build on its technological leadership in this exciting new area.

Read More