PARIS AIRSHOW, Le Bourget: GE Additive is creating the world’s largest laser-powder additive manufacturing machine.
Tailored for the aerospace industry, the machine will be able to print in a ‘build envelop’ of one meter cubed (1000mm x 1000mm x 1000mm). The development project, announced during the airshow, will be unveiled in November.
“The machine will 3D print aviation parts that are one meter in diameter, suitable for making jet engine structural components and parts for single-aisle aircraft,” said Mohammad Ehteshami vice president and general manager of GE Additive. “The machine will also be applicable for manufacturers in the automotive, power, and oil and gas industries.”
The initial technology demonstrator machine, called Atlas, is a laser/powder machine and will be ‘meter-class’ (1000 mm) in at least two directions. The GE team has been developing the machine over the past two years and several proof-of-concept machines have been built.
In the machine’s production version (1000 mm x 1000 mm x 1000 mm), the build geometry will be customizable and scalable for an individual customer’s project. Its feature resolution and build-rate speeds will equal or better today’s additive machines. It is also designed to be used with multiple materials, including non-reactive and reactive materials (such as aluminium and titanium).
“We have customers collaborating with us and they will receive beta versions of the machine by year’s end,” Ehteshami said. “The production version (yet to be named) will be available for purchase next year.” GE is targeting first deliveries of the machine in late 2018.
The technology demonstrator builds upon GE technology, combined with Concept Laser’s expertise in laser additive machines. Concept Laser (a German-based company which GE Additive has controlling ownership) currently has the largest laser-powder bed additive machine on the market with a build envelope of 800 mm x 400 mm x 500 mm.
Concept Laser and French company Lauak have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to launch an alliance between the two entities. Lauak will invest in Concept Laser’s additive machines to be a reference customer for Concept Laser technology and Concept Laser will work closely with Lauak to implement additive processes and design new products. Lauak is a manufacturer of aircraft parts and structures, holding a Part 21 subpart G approval.
“Lauak see the potential of additive manufacturing and I’m delighted they’ve chosen Concept Laser equipment to help them on their journey,” said CEO of Concept Laser, Frank Herzog. “We will support them with equipment, processes and people to allow them to fulfil their objectives.”
Concept Laser will support Lauak during the implementation phase of the equipment into their manufacturing process. Lauak will also present the Concept Laser machine to reference customers in their showroom, including the presentation of test objects for demonstration purposes. Concept Laser and Lauak will collaborate to redesign components from the Lauak portfolio.
Mikel Charritton, CEO of Lauak said: “We see the huge potential in additive manufacturing and we want to use this technology to complete and improve our current manufacturing processes, as well as the manufacture of new components for the aviation industry.”