GE is Bringing Industrial AM to India

3D printing, india, factory, manufacturingEarlier this week General Electric announced it will bring 3D printing to its new plant in Chakan, Pune, India.

As part of the new $200 million facility GE will install a number of 3D printers that will manufacture high quality plastic parts, eventually transitioning to metal additive manufacturing.

“The company has installed the first 3D printing machine at the Chakan plant,” said Thomas Mitchell, GM of supply chain, distributed power at GE Water & Power. “We will start with plastics and then get into metal parts/components.”

While GE plans to have its new Indian facility concentrate on the production of components for jet engines and gas turbines, the multi-national firm realizes that one of AM’s greatest benefits is its flexibility in manufacturing.

Unlike most factories that are tooled to create a single system, a plant stocked with 3D printers has the ability to switch which products it’s producing after every print run. That means they can integrate new parts or short run components into a factory’s manufacturing schedule on the fly and with no tooling costs. In addition, 3D printers can operate 24/7 and remotely, meaning plants stocked with the machines have little to no down time.

While plants building jet engines and gas turbines might not seem like the right environment for a dynamic manufacturing scheme, GE’s attempt to forge ahead with this next-generation factory arrangement shows foresight and courage for the industrial giant.

If their experiment in India proves successful, don’t be shocked to see GE rapidly proliferate this model of factory across its worldwide network of facilities. What’s more, the Pune factory could represent another milestone in the mainstreaming of Additive Manufacturing, giving the technology even greater exposure to global manufacturers and entrepreneurs.

Image and Video Courtesy of GE