GE reveals 3D Printer for one meter metal objects and system will scale to larger sizes

GE revealed the beta version of the world’s largest 3D printer for metals, which uses a laser and a powder bed to make parts. It is capable of printing parts as large as 1 meter in diameter directly from a computer file by fusing together thin layers of metal powder with a 1-kilowatt laser. The machine has the potential to build even bigger parts, due to the nature of the scalable technology. Customers are already requesting machines with build volumes of more than 1 meter cubed.

GE used the beta machine to print a jet engine combustor liner.

GE uses proprietary technology to control powder dosing, reducing powder consumption by 69 percent compared to traditional machines “on its first attempt.” The machine will also print faster than today’s machines. GE can configure the design and allows customers to add more lasers.

The new printer will also take advantage of Predix, GE’s software platform for the industrial internet, to monitor the printing process and also the health of the machine. Concept Laser’s new M2 printers already come with data analytics using Predix to monitor machine utilization and production and look for potential problems before they occur.

Several GE businesses are already using additive manufacturing to make and develop new products. GE Aviation is printing fuel nozzles for the LEAP family of jet engines. The company is also building the Advanced Turboprop, the first commercial aircraft engine in history with a large portion of components made by additive manufacturing methods, which include 3D printing. The designers reduced 855 separate parts down to just 12. As a result, more than a third of the engine is 3D printed. GE Healthcare, GE Power and the oil- and gas-field services company Baker Hughes are also using the technology.

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1

That part... is all wrong. That part was designed to be moulded using old fashioned casting technology.

A part designed for 3D printing wouldn't look like that. They've just taken the old design and made it using a new tech.

2

Personally, I can't wait for the evolution of 3D Printers into full scale fabricators. Sort of like nano fabs only at the macroscale (albeit mostly 'micro'). This would mean true sophisticated robofacs within a box.

3

The designers reduced 855 separate parts down to just 12.

GE has been doing such things since 2012:

"The GeoSpring suffered from an advanced-technology version of “IKEA Syndrome.” It was so hard to assemble that no one in the big room wanted to make it. Instead they redesigned it. The team eliminated 1 out of every 5 parts. It cut the cost of the materials by 25 percent. It eliminated the tangle of tubing that couldn’t be easily welded. By considering the workers who would have to put the water heater together—in fact, by having those workers right at the table, looking at the design as it was drawn—the team cut the work hours necessary to assemble the water heater from 10 hours in China to two hours in Louisville.

In the end, says Nolan, not one part was the same.

So a funny thing happened to the GeoSpring on the way from the cheap Chinese factory to the expensive Kentucky factory: The material cost went down. The labor required to make it went down. The quality went up. Even the energy efficiency went up.

GE wasn’t just able to hold the retail sticker to the “China price.” It beat that price by nearly 20 percent. The China-made GeoSpring retailed for $1,599. The Louisville-made GeoSpring retails for $1,299."

Full: https://operationsroom.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/why-is-ge-bringing-appliance-manufacturing-back-from-china/

4

I'd be very concerned dealing with "engineers" who regarded IKEA as something that is difficult to assemble.