GE Additive Takes Bold Moves in Aerospace Industry
GE Additive made significant strides within the aerospace industry at the recent Paris Air Show by forging strategic supplier agreements, announcing a unique new additive machine, and meeting hundreds of potential customers.
While GE Additive is less than a year old as a business entity, its parent company, GE, has been engaged in the revolutionary additive manufacturing technology for decades. Through acquisitions and billions of dollars in internal technology investments, GE Additive is aggressively industrializing the technology across several industries.
With a chalet presence at the Paris show, GE Additive took a very public step in announcing to aerospace companies that it is indeed open for business. GE Additive held more than 50 meetings with potential customers at the show, hosting more than 200 people.
"My biggest takeaway (from Paris) was how everyone realized that GE Additive is here to serve the aerospace industry as a whole, meaning inside GE and the many companies outside of GE that will benefit from this technology," said Mohammad Ehteshami, vice president and general manager of GE Additive.
Three GE Additive announcements at the show furthered its presence within aerospace:
-- World's largest machine. GE Additive is creating the world's largest laser-powder additive manufacturing machine. Tailored for aerospace, it will print in a "build envelop" of one meter cubed (1000mm x 1000mm x 1000mm), suitable for jet engine structural components and parts for single-aisle aircraft.
-- Oerlikon alliance. GE Additive, Concept Laser* (Germany), and Arcam EBM* (Sweden), became preferred machine suppliers to Oerlikon Group (Switzerland), who will collaborate on machine and materials R&D with GE. Oerlikon is an additive technology leader in advanced materials, production, post processing, and surface solutions.
-- LAUAK alliance. Concept Laser and LAUAK (a French aeronautical company) signed a Letter of Intent where LAUAK invests in Concept Laser's machines, and Concept Laser works with LAUAK to implement additive processes and new products.
"Additive manufacturing is tailor-made for aerospace where the components and materials are complex and operate in extreme environments," said Greg Morris, development director of GE Additive. "The aerospace world is now realizing how deep we are going into additive and how our engineering and design proof points have the potential to fundamentally change how the industry thinks about the creation of components and products."
David Joyce, GE Vice Chairman, echoed these sentiments. "GE has seen the disruptive power of additive manufacturing across its industrial businesses," he said. "Our desire is to expand additive technology with suppliers across our own supply chain so they can experience the same level of efficiency. Additive technology will ultimate make all of us smarter."
Additive manufacturing (also called 3D printing) involves taking digital designs from computer aided design (CAD) software, and building them on an additive machine, layer by layer from metal powder. Additive components can be lighter, more durable and more efficient than traditional casting and forged parts because they can be made as one piece, requiring less welds, joints and assembly. Because additive parts are essentially "grown" from the ground up, they generate far less waste material. Freed of traditional manufacturing restrictions, additive manufacturing dramatically expands the design possibilities for engineers.