GE Additive Announces New 3D Printing Agreement with Eaton, Relocates Gas Atomization Materials Equipment to AP&C

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Since announcing an increased focus on 3D printing last spring, GE Additive has been busy making good on its announcement, acquiring and partnering with other companies in the industry, introducing new 3D printers left and right, and opening a new Customer Experience Center. Now, the 3D printing-centric business of global giant GE is releasing a slew of announcements, starting with a new agreement to support the R&D and industrialization efforts of power management company Eaton.

“Additive capabilities provide new business opportunities and a strong competitive advantage,” said Nanda Kumar, the President of Eaton’s Aerospace Group. “In five to ten years, we see a significant portion of our portfolio being manufactured through additive processes because of the investments we are making today. Additive manufacturing is an exciting technology that offers many advantages. We look forward to leveraging GE Additive’s expertise and experience to accelerate our initiatives in this space.”

Eaton is one of the top suppliers of products and technologies in the aerospace sector for hydraulic systems, motion control and engine solutions, as well as fuel and inerting systems. In order to support the evolution and execution of its AM strategy and production-readiness activities for industrialization, the company’s Aerospace Group has invested in consultancy services from GE Additive’s AddWorks, along with two Concept Laser 3D printers.

Mike York, Director, Additive Manufacturing, Eaton’s Aerospace Group, said, “We were impressed with GE Additive’s consultants’ focus on strengthening our existing additive manufacturing program in a way that will accelerate our deployment.”

One of the Concept Laser 3D printers will be installed at Eaton’s Michigan-based Innovation Center, in its Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence. The second will be located at the company’s R&D lab at its India-based Global Innovation Center. Both should be installed in their new homes by the end of next month.

GE Additive knows a little something about supporting industrialization activities, making it a good choice for Eaton as it works to expand its overall 3D printing strategy.

“We’re honored to have been selected by Eaton to join them at this pivotal stage of their additive journey,” said Jason Oliver, President and CEO, GE Additive. “Our own direct experiences and learnings in mass scale production within the aerospace industry mean that we have an implicit understanding of what they’re trying to achieve.”

AddWorks consultants will work closely with Eaton, advising the company’s Aerospace Group on everything from production readiness selection strategies and materials characterization to industrialization efforts and part certification processes.

Moving on with its announcements, the gas atomizer equipment currently installed at the Italian plant of GE Aviation business Avio Aero has just been acquired by GE Additive’s materials division, Advanced Powders & Coatings (AP&C), and will be relocated to its Montreal facility. This acquisition and relocation is good news for several reasons.

“The equipment moving to Canada means more volume and capabilities at our Cameri plant. And of course more 3D printing machines,” said Giacomo Vessia, the Cameri plant leader for Avio Aero. “In addition to focusing on additive processes we will also have the time and more space to train and equip our existing and new team members with future manufacturing skills.”

The plant in Cameri. [Image: Avio Aero]

The industry’s demand for high-quality powder and materials is rapidly growing right along with the industry itself, and the aerospace field, in particular, is creating and using titanium and nickel-based alloys. Avio Aero’s gas atomization technology, complementary to AP&C’s proprietary Advanced Plasma Atomization (APA) process, is used for in-house powder production of special metal alloys, like Titanium Aluminide (TiAl). The equipment has been at the Cameri plant for four years, and is moving to AP&C after a strategic business review, as GE Additive anticipates further demand for the technology in the near future.

“Without ongoing materials science research and innovation, additive will struggle to advance. So, while this relocation makes sense commercially, it is also a key element of our future materials development strategy,” explained Alain Dupont, the President & CEO of AP&C. “Having this complementary technology in the AP&C portfolio, opens up wider possibilities for us as a business and also for our customers, who continually to want to push boundaries.”

A pair of Arcam machines at Avio Aero’s 3D printing factory in Cameri. [Image: Avio Aero]

This relocation will help to better position GE’s available AM technologies, and will also give both businesses the chance to increase focus on what they’re best at – Avio Aero 3D printing airplane engine components with AP&C’s powders and EBM technology from Arcam, and AP&C on its materials and powder production.

As a result of this partnership, AP&C will be able to grow its technology portfolio, along with its ability to offer customers a more complete range of powder processes. Avio Aero’s unique gas atomization technology is perfect for powder recycling, which is a positive for customers in search of more sustainable technology solutions.

In addition, the company will also become one of GE Aviation’s preferred TiAl suppliers. The gas atomization equipment being relocated to AP&C should be fully operational by March 2019.

What do you think of this news? Join the discussion of this story and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

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