As advancements continue in 3D printing, particularly that of laser sintering, we are seeing major investments within the aerospace industries, as well as several other areas which rely on highly detailed, light weight, customized parts. This week Global conglomerate General Electric Co. announced plans to add a technology center to its manufacturing and engineering complex in Greenville, S.C.
The new facility, which will be known as the Advanced Manufacturing Works, is slated to open in 2015. The first-of-its-kind center will employ a variety of technologies including additive manufacturing using lasers and electron beams, five-axis machining, automated welding and advanced composites.
The company plans to use it to develop high-tech manufacturing processes across its largest industrial business unit, its Power and Water unit. The new technology center will develop prototypes and processes for a host of other GE businesses including its heavy-duty gas turbine, wind turbine, gas engine, nuclear power services and water purification businesses.
According to GE, the center will allow the company to do things better and faster.
“Greenville serves as the ideal location for the Power and Water advanced manufacturing site. Here we will be able to deliver even more innovative breakthrough products and services, work better with each other and our customers, and bring best-in-class technologies to market quicker,” GE Power and Water President and CEO Steve Bolze said.
Kurt Goodwin, the GE executive who will manage the new center in Greenville, said the new project may help create jobs in Greenville in emerging markets. An example Goodwin gave of potential jobs revolved around the prototype parts the company plans to make at the center from metal powder.
“So somebody’s going to have to come up with equipment to transport the powder around the shop, whether it’s some kind of ducting or conveyor system or something,” Goodwin said. “That’s not probably going to be our core focus.”
GE plans to spend $400 million on the new center over the next 10 years. Seventy-three million dollars will go towards building the new center and hiring 80 new high tech employees, while the remaining $327 million will go towards machinery and equipment. The hefty price tag allows GE to receive a “super FILO,” a tax cut that cuts the assessment ratio from 10.5 percent to 4 percent and can last up to 40 years.
The new center will be just a state away from GE Aviation in Asheville, N.C. the hub that makes components for the Leap engine. Some of very complicated parts like the Leap engine fuel nozzle, are being manufactured using additive manufacturing processes. Check out the brief video below showing off some of the 3D printing which takes place at their current facility.