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GE building largest 3D printer to print jet engine parts

The company has revealed its plans to build the world’s largest 3D printer that will use metal powders.

In many ways, the 3D printing technology is being used in a lot of interesting projects across the world. For instance, MIT recently built a 50-foot wide, 12-foot tall igloo in less than 13 hours. Moreover, they also debuted the first small rocket engine completely build from a 3D-printer. All over the world people are using the technology to build their own stuff.

However, GE has gone a step further, rather a giant step to produce jet engine parts with the help of a 3-D printer. GE is ushering a new era of this technology by bringing it to industrial sector with big plans.

3D printer

GE is going to achieve this by building the world’s largest laser-powered 3D printer. GE Additive will lead its development and bring it to reality. This company is a subsidiary of larger GE umbrella. The machine once fully functional will produce 3D printed aviation parts. Jet engine structural components will come from this type of manufacturing in future. Moreover, through it, manufacturing the parts for single-aisle aircraft are also on the anvil.

The company is also not shying away from the possibility of its use in other sectors as well. A company spokesperson revealed that its use is not limited to aviation alone. So, other sectors such as automotive, power, and oil and gas industries can make use of it in future.

Additive printers technology combine the fine layers of metal powder with the help of laser beam to print objects. The printing process is going to cost less. Traditional methods of manufacturing jet components are expensive when compared to 3D-printing. Moreover, once this starts to work traditional casting and welding techniques will become history.

GE is already producing fuel nozzles for jet engines by the 3-D printing method. Airbus and Boeing along with some other narrow-body jet makers are already its customers. GE is hoping to add more customers to its list to sell parts built with this technology.

The company has a prototype ready for this large-scale metal printer. GE calls it ATLAS, it can at present print 2D objects, scaling up to 1 meter long. However, the newer version will print three-dimensional objects with precisions needed for the aviation industry. By the end of this year, GE will come out with the beta version. However, the production version will start to roll out by 2018.

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