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What is additive manufacturing?

GE is ushering in a new era in manufacturing with its commitment to new technologies that reimagine the way we design and manufacture products.

Groundbreaking technologies make it possible to “grow” intricate and complex parts that are lighter, more durable and more efficient than ever before, with less waste.

Additive manufacturing is a key part of GE’s evolution into a digital industrial company.

GE is ushering in a new era in manufacturing with its commitment to new technologies that reimagine the way we design and manufacture products.

Groundbreaking technologies make it possible to “grow” intricate and complex parts that are lighter, more durable and more efficient than ever before, with less waste.

Additive manufacturing is a key part of GE’s evolution into a digital industrial company.

How is additive manufacturing different?

“Normally when you want to produce a part, you start with a big piece of metal and machine it down,” says Jennifer Cipolla, who runs GE’s Center for Additive Technology Advancement (CATA). “But you also create a lot of waste. Additive allows you to grow something from the ground up from a bed of metal powder, sand or other material. There’s hardly any waste because you can reclaim pretty much everything. It also allows you to create much more complex internal geometries that would be otherwise very difficult or expensive to achieve, creating parts with improved performance.”

Additive
1 Data Lake POWERED BY PREDIX
40 Data Systems
SUBTRACTIVE

The LEAP engine: A story of firsts

The LEAP jet engine is the latest product of CFM International, a 50/50 joint venture between GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines. The lean-burning, low-emission LEAP engine is 500 pounds lighter than its predecessor engine, 15% more fuel efficient and reduces NOx emissions by 50%.

LEAP ENGINE

First 3D-woven carbon fiber composite fan blades for single-aisle aircraft.

First ceramic matrix composites (heat-resistant ceramic materials) in the hot section of a jet engine.

First sophisticated 3D-printed part in a jet engine.

Rapid prototyping

Additive techniques accelerate the design and prototype (D&P) phase of manufacturing while making a superior end product.

Using additive technologies shaved a year from the D&P phase of the 3D-printed LEAP fuel nozzle, which is five times as durable as a traditional nozzle, 25% lighter, and runs cooler because of internal cooling structures.

The 3D printer allowed us to rapidly prototype the part, find the best design and move it quickly to production. We got the final design in October 2014, started production, got it FAA certified in February 2015, and will enter service a week after. This would be impossible in the normal casting process.
Bill Millhaem
General Manager GE9X

Doing more with fewer parts

Additive manufacturing significantly reduces the number of parts without losing efficiency.

  • The LEAP jet engine fuel nozzle is a single component that replaced 18 conventional parts.
  • The GE Advanced TurboProp engine reduced 855 conventional parts to 12.

GE9X: The largest and most efficient jet engine

Additive manufacturing techniques and revolutionary design combine to make the GE9X not only the largest jet engine designed for commercial use but also the most fuel-efficient jet engine that GE has ever produced.

Built to power the Boeing 777x, the GE9X can deliver 100,000 pounds of thrust, and will provide a 10% improvement in fuel burn versus the previous generation GE engine and 5% more efficient specific fuel consumption versus any twin-aisle engine available.

It has 3D-printed fuel nozzles and 16 woven-carbon-fiber fan blades feeding air into an 11-stage, high-efficiency compressor with a higher pressure ratio than any commercial engine in service.

The 125-year-old startup

Embracing Silicon Valley startup principles is all about moving quickly, taking risks and “failing fast” to promote radical innovation rather than incremental progress. The engineers at our additive facilities are resourceful and solution-oriented and they don’t panic when something goes wrong. They know how to fail fast, adapt and try something new.

Fastworks
CUSTOMER
NEED
CUSTOMER NEED

Discover and frame the challenge / opportunity

POTENTIAL
SOLUTION
POTENTIAL SOLUTION

Propose a solution to solve the customer need

LEAP OF FAITH
ASSUMPTIONS
LEAP OF FAITH ASSUMPTIONS

Identify assumptions, including commercial and technical

MVPs
MVPs

Design and execute a series of tests to prove/disprove critical assumptions

LEARNING
METRICS
LEARNING METRICS

Measure and explore customer actions and behaviors

PIVOT OR
PERSEVERE
PIVOT OR PERSEVERE

Based on customer validation, persevere, pivot, or stop