GE Additive: Your plane is printing now
GE Additive launched in late 2016, spurred by an internal technical problem. Since then it has gone from strength to strength.
“We sell machines; we develop and sell materials; we create software; we create services and we print parts,” Ehteshami commented, noting that 3D printing is “equal (to) or better than traditional manufacturing.”
Ehteshami added: “Our products and team have grown by a factor of ten, if not more.”
For example, the company started with 100 members of staff. It now has over 1,200.
“We started with a few machines, now we have 1,300+ machines; we have bought and integrated four companies. We have 1,000+ projects in the works to create and disrupt, and we have many parts for GE Aviation ready to go into certification and production.”
The GE Additive initiative started out with GE trying to solve an internal technical challenge. It was developing a fuel nozzle for a new jet engine, but design complexity hampered production – 20 parts had to be welded and brazed together. When the company eventually turned to 3D printing as a last-ditch attempt, they not only successfully combined 20 parts into a single unit, but they found that the unit also weighed 25 percent less than an ordinary nozzle and was more than five times as durable.
Ehteshami said there are now 20,000 of these 3D-printed fuel nozzles flying around, with 1.5 million flight hours, and “they’re performing fantastically.”