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Managing Editor  | July 2017

GE building largest laser-powered 3-D printer for printing metals


GE (General Electric) has been at the forefront of the additive manufacturing revolution, as noted in a recent Plastics eMarket article, and now it is reporting that its 3-D printing spin-off GE Additive is developing a laser-powered 3-D printer for printing parts from metal powder that will be the largest in the world.

 

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GE Additive is building the world's largest laser-powered 3-D printer for
metal powders. (Laser Concept/YouTube)

 

The printer fuses layers of powdered metal with a laser beam, building the part from the ground up rather than cutting a part out of a piece of metal. Using additive manufacturing creates far less waste than the standard process and also expands the design process to new geometries that were not possible previously.

 

“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.”

 

The press release continued, “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 are typically 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.”

 

A GE Reports article noted that the announcement was made at the Paris Air Show and that the machine is expected to be ready for the Formnext Show in Frankfurt, Germany in November.

 

GE Aviation is already using metal 3-D printers to create fuel nozzles for the LEAP jet engines that are being used for next-generation Airbus, Boeing, and COMAC jets. German company Concept Laser printed wing brackets for an Airbus plane that was at the Paris Air Show and last year GE purchased a majority stake in the company and made it part of GE Additive.

 

“The first ‘demonstrator’ version of the printer, called ATLAS, will 3D print objects up to 1 meter long in at least two directions from titanium, aluminum and other metals,” claimed GE Reports. “The production version, still to be named, will extend the third dimension to a meter.”

 

According to the press release, GE is expecting beta versions to be delivered to partnering companies by the end of the year with the final product to be shipped near the end of 2018.

 

Learn more about metal 3-D printing from Concept Laser in the video below:

Kamweld Intro

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