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Supply Chain Graphic of the Week: An Inflection Point in 3D Printing?


As Technology for Printing with Metal-Alloys Improves, GE Says 3D Printing Now Ready for Prime Time

Nov. 17, 2016
SCDigest Editorial Staff

3D  printing - also sometimes called additive manufacturing - has certainly received lots of hype in recent years, but the reality has seemed to have been fairly well behind the promise.


Has that situation really started to change?


SCDigest ran a story earlier this week on how the rapidly advancing ability to print parts using a variety of metal alloys, versus the plastics-based printing used for many other applications, is starting to transform what can be achieved and has many companies rolling out real applications.


That includes industrial giant GE, which has invested more than $1 billion in 3D printing technology - and says it is indeed ready for prime time.


We usually use a chart of some kind for our Graphic of the Week, but this week, it's a photo - of GE's additive manufacturing center in its jet aircraft factory complex north of Cincinnati.



The first large scale application for 3D parts in GE's Aviation division will be for the company's clean-sheet design for its Advanced Turboprop (ATP) engine, which will power the all-new Cessna Denali aircraft. Additive parts will cut that engine's weight by 5%, the company says.

GE has also revealed that in a secretive "Skunk Works" style project, it is testing demonstrator jet engine that will use 35% 3D printed parts. That engine was designed, built and tested in just 18 months, and the 3D printing process reduced more than 900 conventionally made parts to just 16 additive manufactured components.

We say: the 3D printing revolution may actually be here. See GE Makes Major Strides in 3D Printing, as Advances in Metals-Based Composition Opens Up Many New Applications.


In addition to the center in Cincinnati, GE is building out a 3D printing center in Auburn, AL.


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