Over the past decade, GE has invested approximately $1.5 billion in manufacturing and additive technologies, and at last year’s formnext, the world was introduced to GE Additive for the first time, not long after the company made a major investment in metal additive manufacturing by acquiring controlling shares in Concept Laser and Arcam. GE Additive was established to become a leading supplier of additive technology, materials and services for industries and businesses worldwide, and this summer revealed its Project A.T.L.A.S. development program, set for formal unveiling at formnext 2017, which opened today in Frankfurt.
Project A.T.L.A.S., which stands for Additive Technology Large Area System, is a company-wide program set up to develop the next generation of large additive machines. This morning, at GE Additive’s booth E30 in Hall 3.0 at formnext, the company introduced the first BETA machine developed for Project A.T.L.A.S.
The meter-class, laser powder bed fusion system, which complements the company’s other products, is a breakthrough machine for the metal powder AM sector – it was developed in only nine months, and was built so manufacturers of large components and parts could enjoy a scalable solution that’s able to be customized and configured to their specific industry applications. The BETA machine is well-suited for use in industries that use large, complex metal parts, like automotive, aviation, oil and gas, and aerospace, and uses the latest laser technology; it can also be reconfigured so more lasers can be added.
“Irrespective of industry, every customer has its own specific needs and its own unique levels of complexity. We regularly hear that next-generation machines need to be customizable and configurable,” said Mohammad Ehteshami, Vice President and General Manager of GE Additive. “The new meter-class machine we’re debuting at formnext is our response to that feedback – a solution that is scalable and customizable and meets the needs of our industry, as it matures.”
Aerospace engineers built the new A.T.L.A.S. BETA machine, based on Concept Laser’s expertise and combined with earlier technology developed by GE. It outsizes Concept Laser’s X LINE 2000R as the new largest metal AM system, and offers better build rate speeds and feature resolution than other machines currently on the market. The BETA machine also features a scalable architecture that’s able to increase the Z axis to 1.0 M and beyond, and also saves on cost and powder by incorporating discrete dosing.
Frank Herzog, Founder and CEO of Concept Laser, said, “Bringing innovation and technologies to market in just nine months demonstrates exactly what we mean by accelerating the additive manufacturing industry. Our Project A.T.L.A.S is one way we are helping our customers be more efficient and nimble as the sector matures. This demonstrates what’s possible when we combine the strength of Concept Laser with GE.”
Other specs for the new BETA machine include:
- Build volume: 1.1 x 1.1 x 0.3 m
- Gantry-based architecture
- Latest 1 kW laser
- Optimal air flow over print area
- 3D scanner translates with laser
In addition, the machine features process and machine health monitoring, thanks to Predix software, GE’s cloud-based operating system. The machines will be manufactured in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Lichtenfels, Germany; the first few BETA machines are being evaluated now by a few customers, but more will be available for delivery in 2018.
You can see the new BETA machine for Project A.T.L.A.S. at formnext this week. Don’t forget, 3DPrint.com is also at the trade fair in Germany, bringing you all of the latest news and announcements right from the showroom floor.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.[Sources: GE Additive / Photos from formnext: Sarah Goehrke]