GE Opens $39M 3D Printing Facility Near Pittsburgh
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on April 21, 2016 |

After launching in 2015 an additive manufacturing facility in Auburn, Ala., dedicated to the 3D printing of its LEAP fuel nozzle, GE has opened another center for 3D printing. The multinational conglomerate’s new site is in Findlay Township, Pa., just outside Pittsburgh. The Center for Additive Technology Advancement (CATA) will not be focused on just one component, but will leverage all of GE’s 3D printing activities worldwide.

GE’s CATA will house multiple direct metal laser melting (DMLM) machines capable of 3D printing precise parts from metal alloys. (Image courtesy of GE Reports.)

GE will invest $39 million in CATA over the course of three years, fueling what will be a multifaceted site dedicated not only to research and development around 3D printing, but also to training and design. Implementing GE’s “Brilliant Factory” concept, CATA will incorporate software and analytics to improve productivity, while also enhancing the use of 3D printing for production. The products and knowledge that come out of CATA will aid GE operations worldwide, including its aviation, transportation, power and oil and gas divisions.

In a recent GE report on the facility, CATA Leader Jennifer Cipolla elaborates on the principle behind the work: “Our mission is to ensure additive technology becomes a standard part of the tool kit for each business. By having a shared facility, they can share the cost burden and we can advance the technology across the entire company much more rapidly than if they were to invest individually.”

CATA will feature an ExOne S-Max machine used for 3D printing sand cores for metal casting. (Image courtesy of GE Reports.)

Among the equipment that will be housed at the facility are direct metal laser melting (DMLM) machines. The company doesn’t name which brand of metal 3D printer it uses, although images from the site feature some variety of an EOS direct metal laser sintering system, a popular platform for metal 3D printing. GE also plans to add $10 million more in equipment this year, including an unnamed $2 million system capable of using four lasers to 3D print in four areas simultaneously. Other machines housed at the facility include an ExOne S-Max, which produces large sand cores for casting in metal; a Stratasys Fortus system for plastic extrusion (FDM), and a Stratasys Connex machine for 3D printing multiple materials in a single build.

This corporate gift was 3D printed on a Stratasys Connex machine, which can jet four different UV-curable resins in a single build. (Image courtesy of GE Reports.)

In the 3D printing industry, GE has become almost synonymous with bringing 3D printing to the forefront of industrial manufacturing with its LEAP jet engine fuel nozzles. These nozzles simultaneously represent the efficiency that 3D printing can bring to design, reducing the necessary parts of the component from 18 to 1, and the possibilities for the technology to produce end-use parts. These nozzles will be incorporated into 1,700 jet engines by 2018. If this is what GE could manage with a single fuel nozzle, imagine what the multinational company might accomplish with this brand-new facility.

About the Author

Michael Molitch-Hou is a 3D printing specialist and the founder of The Reality™ Institute, a service institute dedicated to determining what’s real and what’s not so that you don’t have to. He is a graduate of the MFA critical studies and writing program at CalArts, and a firm advocate of world peace.

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