GE Aviation and Sigma Labs Inc plan to improve additive manufactured (AM) jet engine components.
GE Aviation and Sigma Labs Inc plan to improve additive manufactured (AM) jet engine components.

GE Aviation and Sigma Labs Inc have signed a joint technology development agreement (JTDA) to put in place in-process inspection technologies for additive manufactured (AM) jet engine components.

The inspection technology will verify the quality and geometry of additive components during the additive build process. The companies think this will increase additive production speeds up to 25%.

"Today, post-build inspection procedures account for as much as 25% of the time required to produce an additively manufactured engine component," said Greg Morris, GE Aviation's business development leader for additive manufacturing. "By conducting those inspection procedures while the component is being built, GE Aviation and Sigma labs will expedite production rates for GE's additive manufactured engine components like the LEAP fuel nozzle."

Mark Cola, president and CEO of Sigma Labs, added: “We are pleased to have signed the agreement and to begin the next phase in demonstrating our PrintRite3D technology for additive manufacturing of metal parts.  Together, we will be focusing our efforts in working to ensure the build quality and as-built repeatability of additively manufactured aircraft engine components, thereby ensuring predictable materials properties critical to successful product commercialization."

By 2020, GE Aviation plans to have produced more than 100,000 additive-manufactured components for the LEAP and GE9X engines. GE will install 19 additive manufactured fuel nozzles on every LEAP engine, which has amassed more than 4,500 orders. The LEAP fuel nozzle is up to 25% lighter and five-times more durable than traditionally manufactured fuel nozzles, leading to significant fuel savings.

GE Aviation uses additive manufacturing methods such as direct metal laser melting (DMLM) to build 3D-designed production engine components that traditional manufacturing methods are incapable of producing, the company claims.

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