Italy: New GE Oil & Gas Plant Employs First Fully Automated Production Line, Operated by Robots
3D printing is taking the world by its tail for a reason, hurdling in with a list of substantial benefits that motivate users along all levels of expertise to jump in, with different aspects of the technology appealing to different designers and manufacturers, whether it’s the customization options, capability for low batch production—or best of all, that affordability factor.
When it comes to self-sustainability, we often discuss that in terms of positive benefits for developing countries as they begin using and 3D printing diagnostic devices in rural areas, or new entrepreneurs like jewelry makers, able to create veritable mini-factories in their own homes with their own jewelry 3D printers. But this benefit certainly applies on even the highest levels, where that third revolution in manufacturing is beginning to show its evolution more and more today.
GE, of course, exemplifies the industrial commitment to 3D printing, as they’ve recently opened numerous facilities from South Carolina to Pennsylvania to India, all offering a variety of 3D printing technology within them, giving us a snapshot of the goings-on within—making the American manufacturer and home of much progress and innovation look like a very exciting place to work today, most especially if you are an engineer who wants the challenge of perching on that much talked about cutting edge.
Now, General Electric can add a new $11 million facility to that growing list, with this one featuring many millions invested in robots—making it look as if we’ve truly and finally evolved into what science fiction has been predicting for so long. Situated in Talamona, Italy, the new facility for GE OIl & Gas features a nozzle production line that ties into that aforementioned self-sustainability issue. At this level, GE is able to knock out the middle man: no more third party suppliers necessary as extremely capable robots knock out the work. They are able to use more than ten technologies, to include electrical discharge machining, measurement, and laser beam welding.
This will be the first time that GE Oil & Gas has employed a factory line that is totally automated. Along with the nozzle production line, the facility will also house an additive manufacturing line that produces burners for gas turbine combustion chambers. The facility has just been officially unveiled after two years of development and GE fully expects this to be one of their most productive and innovative facilities worldwide, which is quite a statement considering the other very impressive comparisons.
Following stringent prototyping and testing of the NovaLT16 gas turbine, the company forged ahead with production of the 3D printed components, employing all those great benefits of the new technology from added design and customization options to greater productivity coupled with even better quality.
“The use of automated production and new techniques like additive manufacturing allow us to develop parts and products more efficiently, precisely and cost-effectively, accelerating the speed at which we can bring product to market,” said Davide Marrani, general manager manufacturing for business turbomachinery solutions at GE Oil & Gas.
“Our investment in these technologies at this site reflects our ongoing commitment to combine cutting edge technology and new manufacturing processes to lower cost and accelerate the innovation, speed and performance of industrial products. Our commitment to ongoing research and innovation is key to meeting our clients’ ever-changing needs.”
This facility in Italy, where production lines are already operational and expected to be fully functional by the time 2017 rolls around, also offers new software that will allow engineers to schedule production activities as well as, very importantly, predicted maintenance required.
“The opportunities for the application of additive manufacturing and 3D printing in the oil and gas industry are only just starting to be explored, and it will require an ongoing rethink of component design and production approach,” said Massimiliano Cecconi, GE Oil & Gas materials and manufacturing technologies.
“GE Oil & Gas is fostering the development of this technology to produce complex components for gas turbines, while cutting costs, boosting performance and reducing emissions.”
As GE Aviation and GE Global Research Centre have been collaborating further, technology and innovation has progressed at an accelerated rate within the huge conglomerate. Other research and development sites are found in India, Japan, multiple sites in the US, China, and Germany. Are you surprised at this level of expansion regarding 3D printing facilities on GE’s part? Discuss over in the GE Opens New 3D Printing Facility in Italy forum over at 3DPB.com.[Source: Robotics and Automation News]
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