GE Additive champions lean manufacturing in new Arcam EBM Center of Excellence

Award-winning 3D printer OEM GE Additive has opened a new Center of Excellence dedicated to its Arcam electron beam melting (EBM) subsidiary. Located in Härryda, Sweden, the 15,000 square meter facility is approximately 22 km southeast of central Gothenburg. Compared to Arcam’s former headquarters in Mölndal, west of Härryda, the facility has three times the floor space. The extra area will be used by Arcam for further R&D efforts and to maximize manufacturing capabilities.

The electron beam melting advantage

Arcam AB was founded in 1997 using an EBM additive manufacturing method developed in collaboration with Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg. Its first machine, the EBM S12, was launched in 2002. Since then, the company has gone through eight further system variations, the most recent of which is the Spectra H, released at RAPID + TCT 2018.

First look at the GE Additive Arcam Spectra. Photo by Beau Jackson.
The GE Additive Arcam Spectra. Photo by Beau Jackson.

One of the unique benefits of EBM technology is that the process is conducted in a vacuum, eliminating the possibility of gas contamination. It’s high operation temperature, between 690 and 720°C, also eradicates residual stresses within parts, associated with other methods like SLM. With the Spectra H in particular, Arcam has developed EBM technology to produce complex objects made from crack-prone materials, such as Titanium Aluminide (TiAl). Taking full advantage of this functionality,  GE Aviation recently acquired 27 Arcam EBM machines to produce TiAl blades for its GE9X aircraft engine.

Global medical device manufacturer LimaCorporate is also a longstanding partner of Arcam, and has been using  EBM technology to produce its Trabecular Titanium (TT) hip cup product for over 10 years.

A lean manufacturing focus

The expansion of Arcam’s Swedish premises was announced at the time GE completed the acquisition of the company in 2018. At the time of this announcement, GE said that the site would “increase machine production capacity and allow for a more collaborative set-up within the company; uniting logistics, research and development, services and operations.”

Staying true to its word, the new site has been launched on schedule, and is enabling GE Additive to focus on lean manufacturing principles, cutting waste from its operations. A noted trend within the company, enabling customers to shift from prototyping to additive manufacturing for serial production will be a key focus of the facility.

The new GE Additive Arcam EBM Center of Excellence. Photo via GE Additive
The new GE Additive Arcam EBM Center of Excellence. Photo via GE Additive

“The Arcam EBM team in Gothenburg is energized to be in its new home – a dynamic, sustainable workplace – in a great location,” comments Karl Lindblom, general manager GE Additive Arcam EBM. “We will harness that energy and continue to research, innovate and drive EBM technology further.”

Customers of Arcam EBM’s annual user group meeting in September will be the first members of the public to visit the new Center of Excellence which, Lindblom adds, “we hope will become a focal point for the entire additive industry.”

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Featured image shows an Arcam Electron Beam Melt Pool. Photo via GE Additive Arcam.