GE Additive has shipped its first Concept Laser M Line Factory system from Germany to GE Aviation’s Additive Technology Center (ATC), Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. The M Line Factory metal Additive Manufacturing machine has undergone significant changes since the acquisition of Concept Laser by GE Additive in December 2016, with its design architecture, system and software being extensively reviewed and redesigned in line with established GE processes and beta testing.
As AM transitions from prototyping to production technology, the demand for machines and on production floor space are increasing, as is the demand for higher numbers of operators to run production lines. Existing standalone machine solutions, stated GE Additive, limit economical series Additive Manufacturing.
The M Line factory offers a modular machine architecture in which the units used for part production and for the set-up and dismantling process are physically decoupled. This enables these tasks to be carried out in parallel and separately from one another, with the system’s architecture also said to offer a high degree of automation of both upstream and downstream stages of the Additive Manufacturing process.
As a result, current stoppage times for the machines, caused by manual processes such as supplying or exhausting metal powder, are said to have been reduced to a minimum, delivering considerable time and cost savings. The system also provides interfaces to conventional manufacturing methods in the form of automation, interlinking and digitisation.
The modular machine technology used in the M Line Factory is key to Concept Laser’s ‘AM Factory of Tomorrow’. This ‘smart factory’ concept proposes a fully expandable, high-grade automated and centrally controllable meta production system which is focused fully on the production assignment at hand, enabling the economical series AM of metal parts.