GE Aviation, a world-leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, announced that it is investing in five GE Additive Concept Laser M Line systems. GE Additive, a leader in additive design and manufacturing, provides a modular additive manufacturing machine architecture through its M Line that enables practical, economical serial production on an industrial scale.
The first four Concept Laser M Line systems will be installed in 2022 at GE Aviation’s Additive Technology Center (ATC) in West Chester, Ohio. During 2022, a fifth M Line system will be installed at Avio Aero’s Turin facility in Italy to support serial production of additive components for the GE Catalyst turboprop engine.
Over the course of the past three years, GE Additive and GE Aviation teams have worked collaboratively to incorporated 300 design improvements into the Concept Laser M Line system with an aim to help customers move into additive serial production.
The past 18 months have been focussed on materials development for aerospace applications to deliver highest part quality in terms of material properties, as well as build-to-build and machine-to-machine stability. GE Additive and GE Aviation ATC teams have partnered to accelerate locking down the materials parameters for aluminum, cobalt chrome and nickel alloy 718.
Concept Laser M Line Systems
The Concept Laser M Line system’s modular machine technology physically decouples the Laser Processing System (LPS) and Material Handling Station (MHS) units used for upstream and downstream stages of the production process and part production.
Because of the modular architecture, these tasks can now be completed in parallel and physically separate from one another.
Continuous improvement and input from GE Aviation informed the most critical and fundamental change to the system – a 54 percent increase in the build envelope to 500mm x 500mm x 400mm – to allow GE Aviation to progress to serial production of larger additive parts.
“The time and work we have collectively invested with our GE Additive colleagues to define, shape and then iron out the specification and functionality of the M Line means we now have a scalable solution that can build large components in a high-volume production environment, while meeting our cost entitlement goals.”– Chris Philp, site leader for GE Aviation’s ATC
The Future of High-Rate Additive Production
Two M Line systems will be dedicated to aluminium alloy, and one each of the two other systems to cobalt chrome and nickel alloy 718, once installed at the GE Aviation ATC, adding additional manufacturing capacity to GE Aviation’s existing additive infrastructure in its state-of-the-art development facility.
“Our goal is to realize the aviation additive industry’s first automation-ready production environment. Once installed, we envisage that our multi-machine approach, with the M Line platform at the heart of production, will help us reduce our lead and print times by over 50%.”– Benito Trevino, general manager – additive integrated product team at GE Aviation
Chris added, “At GE Aviation, we are continually developing more additive content for new engines, and the size and complexity of the parts increases with every generation of products developed. With the M Line, we get the full capability we need to develop intricate additive geometries on large structural components.”
Jan Siebert, general manager – machines & equipment at GE Additive expressed, “By fully embracing the versatility of Lean and the spirit of continuous improvement, we have evolved the M Line over recent years to be ready for real-world, serial additive production. Our focus is on offering industrial solutions that deliver quality parts, at cost and at scale.”
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