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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

GE Additive’s Big Plans For Metal AM

June 22nd, 2017 by Jeff Rowe

Last month at the RAPID + TCT event, many new things were presented and among those was GE Additive’s setting a target of growing its new additive manufacturing business to $1 billion by 2020, and selling 10,000 metal 3D printing machines in 10 years, building upon acquisitions it announced last year.

“It’s a big number,” said Tim Warden, senior sales director of GE Additive. “That’s why they’re investing heavily,” he said, referring to GE.

GE last year announced the acquisitions of Concept Laser (Germany) and Arcam AB (Sweden).

GE controls Concept after agreeing last October to buy an initial 75% stake in the German company, with plans to acquire the rest over an undisclosed number of years. The GE Additive turned to Concept Laser after a previously announced deal with SLM Solutions fell through.

The company estimates that it ultimately can expand additive manufacturing into a $10 billion business. GE owns more than 70% of Arcam but doesn’t have full control of the Swedish company.

The following video shows GE Power’s advanced manufacturing facility in Greenville, SC to learn about GE Additive’s metal 3D printing process for creating a gas turbine component that is used to power homes.

GE Additive and the Power of Additive Manufacturing

For now, “We’re concentrating on Concept where we can do what we want to do,” Warden said. “We’re going to support Concept in every way possible.”

GE is looking to provide financing for customers of Concept 3D printing machines. “GE Finance is on board,” Warden said. Concept is testing large, automated 3D printing production systems that can be customized for buyers. The idea is adapt 3D printing to large-scale production and go beyond prototypes.

GE Aviation is taking additive manufacturing to the next level with their state-of-the-art Auburn plant and the mass production of the LEAP fuel nozzle.

GE Aviation’s Auburn Additive Production Plant

GE wants to boost additive manufacturing across its aerospace, medical and oil and gas product lines. The company became involved with the technology when it developed a 3D-printed fuel nozzle for aircraft engines. Since then it had developed its Advanced Turboprop (ATP) engine, which reduces the number of parts from 855 to 12. This illustrates another benefit of additive manufacturing –  the ability to print entire assemblies as opposed to building parts and then assembling those parts into a larger structure.

One of those 12 additive parts is the exhaust case, which serves as an aerodynamic flow pass allowing air to exit the engine with minimal pressure loss. The exhaust case must be designed with enough strength to withstand the pressure of the airflow traveling through the engine.

By 2020, GE is expected to operate more than 50 machines in Auburn, producing more than 35,000 engine fuel nozzle injectors annually using additive processes. By the end of the decade, GE is expecting to have produced about 100,000 fuel nozzle injectors using additive processes.

The LEAP fuel nozzle injector is produced as a single structure. In contrast, producing the same part using conventional casting processes would require welding and brazing 20 different parts. Using the additive process, the LEAP nozzle injector is 25% lighter and five times more durable.

Especially with the acquisitions last year, GE is becoming a leading end user and innovator in the additive manufacturing space. GE has invested approximately $1.5 billion in manufacturing and additive technologies at the GE Global Research Center, and has developed additive applications across several GE businesses, created new services applications across the company, and earned 346 patents in powder metals used for the additive process.

“We have invested years in proving out this technology for critical components in the heart of the engine,” said Greg Morris, Strategy/Growth Leader for GE Additive. “Now we are well positioned to apply this technology to other components in the same harsh environment which could prove to be game changing for future engine programs and designs.”

GE Additive Building World’s Largest Metal 3D Printer

3D printing is growing up, literally. GE Additive, GE’s new business dedicated to supplying 3D printers, materials and engineering consulting services, announced recently that 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.”

The following video shows the X LINE 2000R, the world’s largest metal melting machine for toolless manufacture of large functional components and technical prototypes.

Additive machines fuse together fine layers of powdered metal with a laser beam and print three-dimensional objects directly from a computer file. With few limits on the final shape, the method gives engineers new freedoms and eliminates the need for factories filled with specialized machines or expensive tooling.

Ehteshami made the announcement this week at the Paris Air Show. It plans to unveil the machine in November at the Formnext Show in Frankfurt, Germany.

X LINE 2000R – LaserCUSING Machine with XXL Build Envelope

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.

The production version, still to be named, will extend the third dimension to a meter. GE Additive said the machine’s “build geometry will be customizable and scalable for an individual customer’s project. Its feature resolution and build-rate speeds will equal or better today’s additive machines.”

“We have customers collaborating with us, and they will receive beta versions of the machine by year’s end,” Ehteshami said. The production version will be available for purchase next year, he said.

Autodesk Names Andrew Anagnost New CEO

Earlier this week Autodesk announced that its board of directors has appointed Andrew Anagnost, current interim co-chief executive officer and chief marketing officer, as the company’s new president and CEO, effective immediately. He will also join Autodesk’s board of directors.

“The board and I are delighted that Andrew will lead Autodesk into its next stage of growth,” said Crawford W. Beveridge, chairman of the board of Autodesk. “Andrew has been instrumental in the development and execution of Autodesk’s successful business model transition, and with his leadership, we are confident that our move to the cloud and subscription will continue to be successful.”

Anagnost, who holds a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering and Computer Science from Stanford University, began his career at Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company and as an NRC fellow at NASA Ames Research Center. After joining Autodesk in 1997, he held various technical and strategic roles.

He led engineering for Autodesk Inventor, the company’s 3D model-based product design and engineering tool, growing revenue five-fold during his tenure.  As senior vice president of business strategy and marketing, he led the company’s successful transition to a subscription business model, and drove adoption of Autodesk’s cloud technologies.

“This is an exciting time for Autodesk, and I am thrilled to be taking on the CEO role,” said Anagnost. “Autodesk transformed the design industry by bringing CAD to the PC 35 years ago, and in the last 10 years became the clear technology leader. We were first to bring design to the cloud and mobile, and now we’re bringing construction and manufacturing to the cloud as well. I can’t wait to lead Autodesk into our next phase of growth, where we will combine business and product innovation to become an even more customer-focused company.”

Anagnost’s appointment follows the February 2017 resignation of the company’s former president and CEO, Carl Bass, and a comprehensive search process conducted by the board over the last four months.

“I have worked closely with Andrew over the past 20 years, and I know he will be a great leader for Autodesk,” said Bass, Autodesk board director. “His contributions and dedication to the company, our employees, and customers have been immeasurable. I look forward to working with him from my seat on the board and can’t wait to see where he takes Autodesk in the future.”

Autodesk also announced that Amar Hanspal, senior vice president, chief product officer and interim co-CEO, has decided to leave the company. Anagnost commented, “I want to thank Amar for his many important contributions to Autodesk’s culture and product line over his 30 years with the company. He is a great colleague and friend, and he will be missed.”

I’ve known both Andrew and Amal for many years and wish them the best going forward.

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