GE's efforts add up
GE is a major additive manufacturing (AM) user and technology supplier, and is set to be a major force in expanding AM use. Here Machinery charts its story in brief, highlighting key developments. GE is a key player in the AM area and has been involved since 2012. That year, GE Aviation collaborated with Morris Technologies and reduced the number of metal parts in a jet engine fuel nozzle from 20 to one, leading to a 25% weight reduction and reduced assembly times. This was the progenitor of CFM International’s LEAP engine’s AM-produced fuel nozzle. The LEAP fuel nozzle is a single-piece AM-produced unit replacing 25 conventionally-made and assembled parts (video of the whole story here: https://is.gd/raruqu). Those 2012 efforts were made real in April 2016 when Airbus took delivery of the first two LEAP-1A engines for its next-generation A320 passenger jet. GE Aviation and France’s Safran are equal partners in the engine’s manufacturer, CFM International. A manufacturing facility in Alabama, USA, will produce the thousands of nozzles required to fulfil engine orders. GE has invested well over $100 million in the Auburn site, the first plant in the aerospace industry to mass produce additively manufactured engine components. More than 40 additive machines operate around the clock daily. In May, GE said the Auburn plant had printed more than 21,000 nozzles, and production is eventually expected to reach 40,000 per year.