3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing has become the most economical, convenient, and reliable way of making many things today. As the technology advances, the traditionally expensive and labor intensive manufacturing methods may go obsolete. The technology is already making rockets, ovaries, houses, turbine blades, bridges, weapons, tires, shoes, organs, and well, basically, everything that we can imagine. With the need of the technology rising at a fast pace, engineering giant GE Additive has announced that they will be building the world’s largest laser powder 3D printer.
The additive manufacturing machine will use a laser to mold metal powders into required parts measuring up to 1 cubic meter (35 cubic feet). The laser additive manufacturing technique used in GE’s device is not new. Organizations like NASA are already using it to make rocket parts where a powerful laser beam pointed at a layer of metal powder fuses it to form a layer. Fusing one layer at a time, the printer can make any shape required.
Vice president and general manager of GE Additive, Mohammad Ehteshami explained, “The machine will 3D print aviation parts suitable for making jet engine structural components and parts for single-aisle aircraft. It will also be applicable for manufacturers in the automotive, power, and oil and gas industries.”
General Electric recently acquired a company Concept Laser that owned the laser printer design. The device once developed will be able to make objects out of Aluminum, Titanium, and many other metals. The demo version of the printer will be able to print objects up to 1 meter in two dimensions, but when it goes to full-scale production, it will be able to do the same in the third dimension.
The company has not announced any details about the resolution of the individual features and the printing speed and all they said was that it will be “equal or better today’s additive machines.” GE will provide the early version of the device to its collaborating companies by the end of 2017, and the production model will be available by 2018. The Formnext Show in Germany in November will see the official reveal of the world’s largest laser powder 3D printer.