GLOBAL digital industrial company General Electric (GE) has announced plans to buy two European 3D-printing companies for a total of US$1.4bn to expand manufacturing of aircraft and other components.
GE will buy Sweden’s Arcam and Germany’s SLM Solutions Group. Both companies manufacture 3D-printing machines that can print metal components used in aircraft engines, or for the additive manufacturing (3D-printing) of other components.
David Joyce, CEO of GE Aviation, explained GE’s plan for using 3D-printing. “Additive provides a new palette for engineers to create. Parts are also being designed in GE Power, Oil & Gas, Healthcare and across GE’s services businesses. We see value potential to reduce product cost…Ultimately, as we develop more productive machines, we can build additive manufacturing ‘as a service’ for customers.”
GE expects to grow its new additive business to US$1bn by 2020 and also expects US$3bn–5bn of cost cuts from manufacturing 3D-printed products across the company over the next ten years.
In July, GE Aviation introduced its first 3D-printed jet engine component – complex fuel nozzle interiors – into service with its LEAP jet engine. The engine was developed by CFM International, a 50:50 joint venture of GE and France’s Safran Aircraft Engines. GE says over 11,000 LEAP engines are on order with up to 20 fuel nozzles in every engine, and production will increase to more than 40,000 fuel nozzles using 3D-printing by 2020.
GE Aviation is also using 3D-printing to produce components in its advanced military engines, and is developing the advanced turboprop engine (ATP) for a new Cessna aircraft with a significant portion of the entire engine produced using 3D-printing.
GE said it would maintain both companies’ headquarters and retain Arcam’s 285 and SLM’s 260 employees.
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