GE has announced it will spend $32 million to build a new research and education centre focused on additive technologies in Pennsylvania, USA. The company will use the new 125,000 ft2 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.
“We want to light the fire behind additive,” stated Greg Morris, Head of Additive Manufacturing research at GE Aviation. “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.”
The centre, scheduled to open in 2015, 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. “The idea is to bring everyone together, share costs and explore our common needs,” added Morris. “It will also help us keep certain intellectual property in house.”
Besides using additive manufacturing to make things, the centre’s 50 engineers will also work on developing new materials for additive technologies.
The new centre will join five advanced manufacturing centres that GE businesses opened in the US in the last two years. These include Greenville (Power & Water), Asheville (Aviation), Auburn (Aviation), Jacksonville (Oil & Gas) and Rutland (Aviation).
Dan Heintzelman, GE Vice Chairman, said that a recent $75 million upgrade of the Rutland centre has allowed GE Aviation to apply new advanced manufacturing technology to jet engine production and save $300 million.
“We made a big bet that Additive Manufacturing is not a flash in a pan,” continued Morris. “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.”