GE Additive has announced more details of its much-anticipated Binder Jet Line and Series 3 AM machine. With production deliveries expected to begin in the second half of 2023, the release of the machine follows a four-year phase of customer collaboration and testing in an effort to ensure that the system is ready for high-volume, serial production environments.
The Binder Jet Line Series 3 is said to be capable of producing small or large complex parts repeatably and reliably using Binder Jetting (BJT) Additive Manufacturing, with material properties that exceed casting equivalents, and can achieve through-hole diameters and wall thicknesses less than 500 μm.
According to the company, its Binder Jet technology has proven the ability to successfully produce large parts which meet dimensional and feature resolution tolerances for production, with demonstrated capability in (but not limited to) parts up to 25 kg in stainless steel, and no known limitations on maximum wall thickness.
The Binder Jet Line also enables the user to:
- Depowder intricate parts without damaging fine features, enabled by GE’s proprietary binder systems
- Sinter parts within the desired tolerances, enabled in part by GE Additive’s Amp™ software’s distortion prediction and compensation capability
- Develop casting equivalent or better parts much faster than traditional methods
- Binder jet and sinter parts with low surface roughness
As GE Additive strives to make industrial metal Additive Manufacturing an economical process, the cost per cm3 is a critical driver of the Binder Jet Line’s development. The further the cost of a final part can be driven down, the more application space is available for the technology.
Part of this calculation includes cost comparison against conventional manufacturing technologies, in terms of tolerances and cost, from incoming raw material, to the final part in hand, therefore taking into account the total cost of ownership – not just the cost of the BJT machine.
Other cost-efficiency benefits highlighted by GE Additive include:
- Less spent on raw materials by recycling unused powder and using less expensive materials vs other powder bed technologies
- Open space for new applications and innovation
- Utilisation of the entire build box, top to bottom, edge to edge, with no need for supports
- The ability to introduce new innovative parts otherwise too costly or difficult to manufacture with conventional or other existing additive technologies
Scalable Additive Manufacturing
GE’s Binder Jet Line reportedly offers high overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), automation readiness, predictive distortion and compensation, and material properties said to meet and exceed industry standards. All of these are offered in line with the company’s goal of providing the lowest total cost of ownership for metal Additive Manufacturing.
Based on input from customers and partners during the technology development phase, GE Additive is focused on enabling the eventual deployment of installations comprising fleets of forty to fifty to 100+ machines, which it believes will drive repeatable process quality, while minimising operator contact with equipment and materials.
Other scale benefits reported by GE Additive include:
- The ability to produce parts up to 100 X faster than other Additive Manufacturing methods
- Automation-ready technology that drives high productivity
- Process and hardware designed to optimise Takt times (the rate at which you need to complete a product to meet customer demand)
- Seamless industrialisation and integration into factory cells
The Binder Jet Line can also be installed and operated without hazard zoning required and has been designed for minimal operator contact with the machine and metal powders. The machine will be UL-listed and CE-certified, has a 100% inert and sealed environment, a fully closed-loop powder-free exposure, and is designed for compatibility with reactive and flammable powder and binders.
Other safety benefits include a fully independent and real-time safety system on board, constantly monitoring machine conditions, and real-time OPC UA data streaming for integration into factory MES and safety systems.
Developed in partnership with GE Additive customers
During the Binder Jet Line’s four-year development period, a group of strategic customer partners have contributed to the development of GE Additive’s BJT technology. Core to this development, stated GE, remains a mutual commitment to formally identify, design, and bring to production specific applications at cost, quality, and at the required scale, safely.
Speaking on this strategy, Josh Mook, chief engineer and innovation leader at GE Additive, explained, “In addition to a tangible business model, customers in fast-paced, high-volume manufacturing environments who are considering industrial-scale additive deployments also need to demonstrate positive financial and productivity impact, as quickly as possible.”
“Customers shouldn’t have to reconfigure and tweak machines once they have been installed on their shop floor,” he continued. “We remain focused on only bringing technology solutions to market when they are ready, and can help our customers demonstrate return on investment and total cost of ownership. That is certainly the case with our new Binder Jet Line and the Series 3, which is reliable, safe, and meets their needs today and tomorrow.”
Brian Birkmeyer, product line leader for Binder Jet at GE Additive, added, “Fast-tracking solutions and bringing them to market too soon is not a sound strategy and is often the reason machines end up gathering dust in R&D labs.”
“During the Series 3 and Binder Jet Line’s development phase, we sought out customers who could give us honest, real-world insights from their high-volume manufacturing environments. We have taken their insights to complement our hands-on knowledge and experience of scaling additive production.”
“The result,” he concluded, “is a modern, modular industrialised additive system – developed by additive users, for additive users – that delivers quality parts, at cost, at scale, and safely.”