In Pittsburgh, America’s historic center of manufacturing prowess, GE is improving a technique called additive manufacturing which could change the world by making processes more efficient and reliable. GE Reports writes:
Few technologies have spread as rapidly as additive manufacturing, and few show as much promise. As recently as the early 1990s, 3D printing prototypes were a rarity found at only a handful of research labs scattered across the globe. Today, GE is printing fuel nozzles and other components for jet engines that already are powering planes with paying passengers on board. CATA now is helping GE businesses like Aviation, Power, Oil & Gas and even Healthcare to master the technology.
Additive manufacturing completely upends our ideas of how we make stuff. We have traditionally shaped products by whittling them down and cutting material away. But 3D printing grows objects from the ground up, adding one layer after another with hardly any waste. The technologies give designers the ultimate freedom because they can produce parts with internal geometries that were previously impossible or very hard to make. “It slashes the price of complexity,” says Jennifer Cipolla, who runs CATA.
CATA is just the beginning of GE’s foray into additive manufacturing. Last year the company spent $1 billion to acquire Arcam and Germany’s Concept Laser — with the goal to be a supplier to the nascent but rapidly growing industry. GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt wrote in his annual letter to shareowners that GE believed “the long-term market potential for additive manufacturing [was] huge at about $75 billion. We plan to build a business with $1 billion of revenue in additive equipment and service by 2020, from $300 million today,” he said.
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