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GE is Using 3D Printing and Their New Smart Factory to Revolutionize Large-Scale Manufacturing

by • April 3, 2016 • No Comments

General-ElectricWhen you are a making company as sizeable-bodied as General Electric it can sometimes be amazingly complex to adapt and modernize. It is not so much that sizeable-bodied corporations aren’t interested in being flexible, avoiding waste and finding new ways to create products, but like a sizeable-bodied ship, changing way is not always swift or effortless. But, GE has just opened the initially of what they assume to be many “Multi-Modal” facilities in Chakan, India that they believe can completely revolutionize how their products are maked. The focus of the facility is on flexibility, in both what they create, how they create it and what technologies they use.

The upcoming generation LEAP engine that uses a 3D printed fuel nozzle.

The upcoming generation LEAP engine that uses a 3D printed fuel nozzle.

It all started with a fuel nozzle, a component that is ubiquitous to any engine that runs on liquid fuels. The fuel nozzle is the engine part that sprays fuel into the engine, where it is burned and causes the entire device to run. Needless to say, a fuel nozzle requires to be durable-bodied, and the geometry of the nozzle itself requires to be exacting so the correct amount of fuel is released at the correct rate. And many importantly it requires to be able-bodied to quite take a lot of heat, on average of 3000ºF worth of it. Because of its importance, and complexity, the fuel nozzle in a GE jet engine became the perfect component to be recreated and maked via 3D printing innovation.

“Before GE targeted it for a reconfiguration, the nozzle was created up of 20 disparate parts procured of independent suppliers that were and so painstakingly brazed and welded together. 3D printing completely transformed that system,” GE Aviation’s general manager for additive technologies Greg Morris told TechRepublic.

The 3D printed fuel nozzle.

The 3D printed fuel nozzle.

The outcome is a single part that completely replicates all of the twists, turns and interior chambers that the old fuel nozzle requireed to have fabricated via multiple parts that may require to be welded and assembled. Instead, the new fuel nozzle was maked via a direct metal laser melting 3D printing system that turns thin layers of metal powders into fully-solid metal parts. Not just is it a single part, but it is 25% lighter and a astonishing-bodied five times stronger than its traditionally maked predecessor. As part of GE’s upcoming generation LEAP engine, the fuel nozzle ended up saving of $3 million per aircraft, per year for any airline flying a plane equipped with one.

Today GE has taken orders for additional than 8,000 of their LEAP engines, every equipped with nineteen of their new 3D printed fuel nozzles totalling of $80 billion in sales. The LEAP engines are assumeed to be installed in upcoming-generation aircraft like the Airbus A320neo, the Boeing 737 MAX, and the Boeing 777X. Whilst many of GE’s making facilities have metal 3D printing capabilities — they have for years — none of them may probably manage that many parts on that scale, that is where the facility in Chakan, India comes into play.

Wind turbine hovias fabricated at the GE plant in Chakan, India.

Wind turbine hovias fabricated at the GE plant in Chakan, India.

The $200 million “Multi-Modal” facility in Chakan was created to be capable-bodied of making a wide range of GE products throughout all of the massive company’s divisions. It can assemble industrial equipment of the oil and gas division to aerospace, transportation and to power distribution, all in the same facility via the same workers. Because the factory can do anything that is requireed, they can pick up the slack when additional dedicated facilities are overwhelmed, and for the reason the workers can be trained to work across the entire GE product line, they can be highly skilled, work swifter and with fewer errors. Not just may this save GE billions of dollars, but it can make them additional flexible as a company, and able-bodied to adapt to changes in markets much swifter.

Locomotive turbochargers maked at the GE plant in Chakan, India.

Locomotive turbochargers maked at the GE plant in Chakan, India.

One of the key technologies that can be powering this new factory can be additive making. The one-year-old facility is assumeed to assist GE revery their goal of making an anticipated 100,000 of their upcoming-generation fuel nozzles by 2020, and some day allow GE to create additional than 44,000 of them a year. The Chakan factory, that is assumeed to be a blueprint for the factory of the next, acts as a catch all making outlet for whatever requires GE has, and it can allow them to open a smaller in size number of dedicated facilities that can swiftly become outdated or under-utilized.

Whilst their investment in such a facility is a clear indicator that 3D printing is assumeed to play a massive role in the next of making, crucially it offers the GE factory the capacity to play a wide-range of roles inside the company. The facility can make replacements parts for any of their rare or unique machines, parts that can frequently take weeks or months to recreate, in a matter of days. It in addition offers GE the capacity to create sizeable-bodied-scale prototypes at lightning swift speeds, enabling them to diversify creations and create new, experimental parts virtually overnight. As far as GE is concerned, the factory of the next is here, and it was created possible for the reason of 3D printing. Tell us your thoughts on this new factory for GE! Discuss in the GE 3D Printing Factory forum over at 3DPB.com.