GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE and a world-leading provider of jet engines, revealed that its Auburn, Alabama, facility recently shipped its 100,000th 3D printed fuel nozzle tip for its CFM LEAP engine .
In Auburn, GE Aviation employees helped establish new processes to mass produce parts with 3D printing, then scaled the technology over time, while improving and maintaining production quality.
“We opened the industry’s first site for mass production using the additive manufacturing process, and to achieve this milestone affirms our plans and investments were on target. There is a bright and exciting future for this technology.”– Eric Gatlin, additive general manager for GE Aviation
3D Printed Fuel Nozzles
The Auburn site began producing 3D printed fuel nozzles in 2015 and was the industry’s first mass manufacturing site for producing aircraft engine parts using additive manufacturing.
The fuel nozzle was made for the CFM LEAP engine*, which entered revenue service in 2016 and surpassed 10 million flight hours earlier this year. The fleet is providing operators with 15% better fuel efficiency than previous generation engines. Each engine has 18 shrouds and 18 or 19 fuel nozzles, depending on the specific model.
According to Andrea McAllister, plant leader for GE Aviation Auburn, “As GE grows the number of jet engine parts made with additive manufacturing methods, we expect to continue to advance our manufacturing capabilities right here in Auburn. We encourage those interested in helping build the future of flight with innovative technologies to join the GE Aviation team.”
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey applauded the achievement at the Alabama plant saying, “The remarkable milestone reached at GE Aviation’s Auburn facility isn’t just about producing 100,000 3D printed fuel nozzle tips – it also shows that Alabama workers are at the forefront of additive technologies revolutionising manufacturing through next-level innovation. This is an exciting development, and I look forward to seeing what GE Aviation and its Alabama workforce will be able to achieve in the future.”
“I’m excited to congratulate GE Aviation on the success they’ve seen here in Auburn and would like to thank them for their investment in our community. For years, GE Aviation has been a steady source of high-quality jobs and high-tech production in Auburn. With the resources at Auburn University and their efforts in additive manufacturing research and training, we are excited about what this partnership will continue to bring in the future.”– Mayor Ron Anders
The 3D printed fuel nozzle reduced the number of parts in a single fuel nozzle tip from 20 to only one. The weight was also cut by about 25%.
*LEAP engines are a product of CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines.
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