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08

episode 08 Manufacturing

segment one : Factory Flyovers

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Big things come from big factories.

GE has facilities that span over forty football fields, producing everything from 1½-ton gas turbines to full-on locomotives. To get a better idea, join us as we travel through the majestic open spaces of some of America’s largest factories--GE’s Healthcare, Transportation and Aviation plants. If you’ve ever felt small, or big, wait till you experience this.

segment two : Product Pathways

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Wind turbine blades are big. But they don’t appear to be made of much, right? Not the case. If you were to peel back the layers, you’d discover a massive club sandwich of fiberglass, balsa wood, foam and more. Join us as we deconstruct a wind turbine blade, from a spinning source of energy down to its basic components.

  • A Wind Turbine from Finish to Start

    Turbine blades. They're big, beautiful and part of an increasingly popular form of alternative energy. But how are such seemingly simple structures made? What are they made of? And where do their parts come from? Scroll to the right to uncover a deep, complex network of processes that will take you places you've never imagined.

    Getting Down To The Core

    As we dig deeper into our sandwich, you'll notice a cluster of stuff -- fiber glass, foam and other materials. This, my friends, is what we call the core.

    This is what the core looks like before infusion, or the bonding process.

    Workers inject resin between various layers of the core to fill in the gaps. Think of it like brick and mortar.

    A Couple of Strong Spines

    We've seen layer upon layer of stuff like fiberglass and foam. But what our blade really needs is a couple spines to give it some monster strength. This is where the spar caps come in.

    Spar caps are made in their own molds.

    The spar caps run along the inside of the blade, and are made of 67 layers of fiberglass.

    To make the spar cap, layers of glass fabric are placed in a mold.

    A bag is placed around the layers and infused with resin under a vacuum.

    The spar cap is then removed from its mold and placed in the blade mold.

    Holding down the Fort

    As we dig deeper, you’ll notice a long I-beam structure in the middle called the shear web. This guy is made of foam and biax--a fiberglass material whose strength comes from its bi-directional composition.

    The I-beam shape bridges both sets of spar caps, providing some superhero strength. With these two working together, you can bet this blade will stand up to all sorts of extremes.

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segment three : Minecraft Mastery

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If you’re a maker at heart, you’re probably one of the 10 million people geeking out over this online construction adventure.

Minecraft is a low-fi, 3D-blocked game that allows users to mine resources and turn them into building blocks. Players then use additive manufacturing techniques to build amazing structures from the ground up. Watch the video to see our Minecraft reconstruction of the Edison Memorial Tower. If your inner builder starts jonesing for some action, we’ve provided a downloadable .schematic file for you to try at home.

See what it looks like in real life

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