All Eyes on Additive Manufacturing Methods

Hey everyone, I have a quick message from my colleague, Prabhjot Singh. We were at a meeting recently discussing a recent youtube video on 3D printing and thought it would be cool to update you all on the great work in this area that GE is doing and researching.

PrabhjotWe have been following the recent press coverage about 3D printing or additive manufacturing with a great deal of interest. Additive manufacturing is the practice of building up material layer-by-layer to directly form a net-shape product. GE Global Research has been heavily engaged in the evaluation, adaption and development of additive manufacturing methods for the better part of the past decade. Our rapidly expanding additive manufacturing facilities include a wide range of commercial and home-3D printers covering several 1000 sq. feet of floor space. Recognizing the growing impact of this critical technology GE Global Research has recently set up a new Additive Manufacturing Lab.

GE scientists in the additive manufacturing lab are focused on pushing the state-of-the-art in the development and maturation of 3D printing methods to deposit intricate, high resolution net-shape geometries in a diverse range of functional materials. A significant GE-NIH collaborative effort involves the low-cost 3D printing of piezoelectric ultrasound transducers. Initial results from this research are very promising. In parallel, GE is making significant advances in maturing 3D printing technology for critical aviation components. Designers at GE Aviation are especially attracted by 3D printing’s ability to produce previously unmanufacturable designs. The combination these new designs & reliable material properties hold the promise of radically improved performance, reduced weight, fuel consumption and greenhouse gases in the exhaust of aircraft engines.

While a Star Trek-like 3D replicator is some decades away, we are very likely at the outset of a 3D printing revolution.  The technology is increasingly becoming accessible with sub-$2000 printers now available as DIY kits. Here at GE Global Research, we are excited about the technology and are working hard (it’s actually a lot of fun) to engineer the next generation of 3D printed GE products.