GE will launch the one of the jet propulsion industry’s first high volume additive manufacturing facilities
Typically relegated to low volume prototyping applications, a new GE Aviation additive manufacturing facility set to open in Alabama, USA positions 3D printing as a viable solution for mass production. By the end of 2015 the facility will mass produce engine components for the fuel efficient LEAP jet engine, which is currently being developed by CFM International, a joint company of GE and Snecma.
The specific part the new facility will build is a fuel nozzle that is up to 25% lighter than its traditionally manufactured counterpart. 3D printing capabilities also allow for a more streamlined design; rather than the 25 brazes and welds of current nozzles, 3D printed versions will only have five.
LEAP will enter service in 2016 on a few single aisle passenger planes including the Boeing 737 MAX and COMAC C919. CFM reports that 6,000 LEAP orders have already been logged, and with almost twenty fuel nozzles nestled into each jet engine, high volume, long term production will be scaled up from 1,000 nozzle manufactured annually to more than 40,000 by 2020.