GE Additive (NYSE: GE) has announced that it is in the process of creating the world’s largest laser-powder Additive Manufacturing machine. Tailored for the aerospace industry, the GE states that the machine will be able to print in a build envelope of one metre cubed (1000 mm x 1000 mm x 1000 mm). The development project, announced at the Paris Air Show, will be unveiled in November at the Formnext exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany.
“The machine will 3D print aviation parts that are one meter in diameter, suitable for making jet engine structural components and parts for single-aisle aircraft,” stated Mohammad Ehteshami Vice President and General Manager of GE Additive. “The machine will also be applicable for manufacturers in the automotive, power, and oil and gas industries.”
The initial technology demonstrator machine, called ATLAS, is a laser/powder machine and will be ‘meter-class’ (1000 mm) in at least two directions. The GE team has been developing the machine over the past two years and several proof-of-concept machines have been built.
GE explained that in the machine’s production version, the build geometry will be customisable and scalable for an individual customer’s project and its feature resolution and build-rate speeds will equal or better today’s additive machines. The system is also designed to be used with multiple materials, including non-reactive and reactive materials, such as aluminium and titanium.
“We have customers collaborating with us and they will receive beta versions of the machine by year’s end,” Ehteshami added. “The production version – yet to be named – will be available for purchase next year.” GE is targeting first deliveries of the machine in late 2018.
The technology demonstrator builds upon GE technology, combined with Concept Laser’s expertise in laser additive machines. Concept Laser, the German-based company which GE Additive has controlling ownership, currently has the largest laser-powder bed additive machine on the market with a build envelope of 800 mm x 400 mm x 500 mm.