A 3D-printed fuel nozzle for the LEAP engine. Image credit: CFM International
A 3D-printed fuel nozzle for the LEAP engine. Image credit: CFM International

“We want to light the fire behind additive,” said Greg Morris, who leads additive manufacturing research at GE Aviation, who was recently named Technology Leader of the Year. “This is still a young tool, but it’s also a very powerful and disruptive tool. We want to maximize its use across all of GE’s businesses.

“We made a big bet that additive manufacturing is not a flash in a pan,” he added. “We know this is a way we are going to make various parts in the future. We are now in the process of training people and building awareness throughout the company. Engineers need to realize that they have this very powerful and enabling tool at their disposal.”

GE will use the new 125,000 ft 2 facility, to train designers and engineers on additive manufacturing design and production, and work closely with students at nearby Carnegie Mellon University, Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh.

New materials

The center will have 3D printers and other additive machines that can work both with plastics and metal. GE businesses will have access to the machines to handle overflow orders, make prototypes and produce new parts without spending capital on their own. 

Besides using additive manufacturing to make things, the center’s 50 engineers will also work on developing new materials for additive technologies.

GE has opened five ‘advanced manufacturing’ centers in the US in the last two years covering power & water, aviation and oil & gas.

The center is scheduled to open in 2015.