Kirk Rogers, GE Additive’s Technology Leader, explains how new approaches to 3D printing will reshape the next century of manufacturing.
Since its first major foray into 3D printing with the LEAP engine fuel nozzle, GE has consistently tested and redefined the upper limits of additive manufacturing . When most companies were experimenting with ABS plastics to create colorful approximations of their final product, GE was laying down metal powder and blasting it with lasers to forge a highly complex fuel nozzle with a geometric complexity and durability impossible to reach by conventional machining.
Since acquiring Morris Technologies, the company behind the Direct Metal Laser Melting (DLML) process used for the nozzle, in 2012, GE has gradually added onto its manufacturing empire, creating GE Additive. Last year, GE acquired 74% of Arcam AB, a Swedish maker of Electron Beam Melting (EBM) machines, as well as 75% of the Germany-based Concept Laser, to leverage its DMLM technology.
By 2020, GE expects to invest $3.5 billion in additive manufacturing. The entire industry was worth $6 billion in 2016, according to Wohlers Associates.