Arcam's A2X electron beam melting systems, typically used in aerospace applications, are featured in a new additive manufacturing center at the University of Connecticut funded by Pratt & Whitney. (Source: Arcam)
Aviation, with its relatively low production volumes, seems to be a logical place to apply this technology. I do find it interesting, however, that the parts still require a wire EDM process after the fact.
AnandY, thanks for that detailed info on what GE Aviation is doing in its AM efforts.
As we mention in the article on the Lux Research 3D/AM report http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=262205 last fall GE Aviation acquired Morris Technologies http://www.geaviation.com/press/other/other_20121120.html, which was a 3D printing service bureau that produced mostly aerospace engine components.
Ann, this is an interesting trend in and it is typical of new technologies. It is also good to see it happening here. As AnandaY points out, Pratt & Whitney's biggest competitor is also starting to use this technology. Actually, GE is using a lot more ceramics and polymers in their engines, and that manufacturing is being brought in house as well.
Perhaps, as with the semiconductor industry, this will become a more standardized technology in the future. The trend in semiconductors is to seperate fabrication (fab) from design. On the other hand, in the early days of the insustry, it was fab that was the compettitive advantage. That is what allowed Intel to keep its lead for so long. On the other hand, Intel is now getting into the foundry business.
Aviation industries are shifting from traditional manufacturing to Additive Manufacturing. Genaral Electric have also shifted to AM. GE is preparing to produce a fuel nozzle for a new aircraft engine by printing the part with lasers rather than casting and welding the metal.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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