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Printing Jet Engines: GE Aviation Acquires Two 3-D Printing Pioneers

Last October, Michael Idelchik, vice president for advanced technologies at GE Global Research, pointed to 3-D printing called it “the next manufacturing revolution.” Idelchik said that 3-D printing, also described as additive manufacturing, “had the potential to fundamentally disrupt” how we make complex machines and transform industries. “The potential impact of additive manufacturing is huge,” Idelchik said. The technology “prints” intricate designs by adding thin layers of material on top of each other. “Four decades from now, we could be printing an entire engine this way,” says Michael Idelchik.

Beyond Testing: 3-D printers can manufacture parts from plastics and metals, just like these printed test samples of aircraft parts.

A full engine is still a tall order but printed jet engine parts are already here. The newest GE jet engines like the CFM LEAP, which GE Aviation makes in a joint venture with France’s Snecma, will have printed combustion system components and other parts inside.

This is only the beginning. GE Aviation just announced that it acquired two U.S. additive manufacturers who have developed advanced technologies for rapid 3-D prototyping and production. “Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing are parts of our investment in emerging manufacturing technologies,” said Colleen Athans, vice president and general manager of GE Aviation’s supply chain division. “Our ability to develop state of the art manufacturing processes for emerging materials and complex design geometry is critical to our future. We are so fortunate to have Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing just minutes from our headquarters. We know them well.”

Both companies are located in Cincinnati, close to GE Aviation’s plants. Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing operate 21 additive manufacturing machines. This makes them possibly the largest additive manufacturers in the world. The companies have been making prototype components for GE jet engines for several years. They have also made parts for GE Global Research and GE Power System. The price of the acquisitions has not been disclosed.
Tag: GE Aviation, GE Global Research

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