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.
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.