GE Aviation has announced plans to bring high volume Additive Manufacturing (AM) to its facility in Auburn, Alabama, USA. The company has stated it will manufacture its jet engine fuel nozzle at the site, becoming the first company to mass produce additive components for the jet propulsion industry.
GE will invest $50M in the existing 300,000 ft² facility to prepare for the additional work. Equipment installation will begin in late 2014 and production of AM components will begin in 2015. By the end of 2015, the plant could have as many as ten AM machines with the potential to grow to more than 50 machines and occupy a third of the facility at full capacity.
The AM fuel nozzle will be used in GE’s LEAP engine, with every engine requiring 19 fuel nozzles. Once manufacturing begins GE will ramp up production quickly, starting with 1,000 fuel nozzles produced annually to more than 40,000 by 2020.
GE also reported that it is developing 3D-printed parts for the GE9X engine, the world’s largest jet engine which will be installed on the next-generation Boeing 777X long-haul passenger jet.
“We spent years proving out this technology for a critical component in the heart of the engine, the combustion chamber” stated Greg Morris, General Manager, Additive Technologies. “Now we are well positioned to apply this technology to other components in the same harsh environment which could prove to be game changing for future engine programs and designs.”
With more than 6,700 orders from 20 countries, adding up to nearly $96 billion (U.S. list price), the LEAP is GE Aviation’s best-selling engine in history.