Additive manufacturing: the moment is now | Trends

Mohammad Ehteshami, vice president of GE Additive, will be one of the speakers of the RetinaLTD forum, which will be held on October 25th.

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is changing the world. This disruptive technology is already part of our day to day and provides greater flexibility and freedom to design products like never before.

The need for business innovation combined with the strategic decision to strengthen industrial investments is driving the adoption of this new form of mass production. The additive technology has advanced to overcome the initial stages of R & D and is establishing itself as a production platform. In fact, experts estimate that 280,000 million dollars will be invested in 3D printing in the next 10 years.

In this context, the aviation industry is leading the implementation of additive manufacturing. In fact, it is likely that many of us have flown in a plane made with some piece printed in 3D. The world's largest jet engine, the GE9X, includes turbine blades and 3D-printed fuel dispenser valves. Until not too long ago, these highly complex metal valves were manufactured with 20 components. Now, GE prints 600 of a single piece per week that are used in different types of engines.

New materials and additive technologies help some engines to be 10% more efficient

New materials and additive technologies help some engines be 10% more efficient in the use of fuel than previous engine models. It is undoubtedly a strategic improvement for the aeronautical sector, given that fuel represents approximately 19% of the operating cost of an airline. The engineers who designed GE Catalyst turboprop engine have been able to combine 855 parts to reduce them to only 12, this means that a quarter of the engine is printed in 3D. Therefore, additive manufacturing has helped reduce the weight of the engine by 5% and fuel consumption by 20%.

In the industrial field and in the consumer demand more and more personalized solutions. In this sense, GE Additive is supporting a wide range of designers who are creating all kinds of products, from toothbrushes, to skateboards and bicycles, to sportswear.

The additive technology not only allows to innovate and expand borders, it also makes it possible to manage production costs and reduce excess consumption of materials. This change implies a challenge for managers, engineers and technicians, who have to rethink the approaches and knowledge on design, engineering and manufacturing, which they had acquired.

Likewise, it is equally important that students get excited about this new model, since they can integrate this new technology in the initial stages of their technical education and learn to incorporate it into many of their processes. For this reason, we launched an educational program in 2017 in which more than 600 schools and universities around the world have received 3D printers of polymers and metals.

Decades of research and development by academics and companies have drawn a promising opportunity. The promotion of collaboration between companies, academia and governments will allow building the necessary ecosystem to make the additive phenomenon one of the keys of the world of the future. The stimuli must continue, now is the time.


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