3D Printers

GE announces development of ATLAS world’s largest powder bed metal 3D printer

GE has announced it is building the world’s largest laser based powder bed metal 3D printer. The metal additive manufacturing machine, which is currently known as ‘ATLAS’, has a build volume of 1 meter cubed (1,000 mm³).

As exclusively reported by 3D Printing Industry in April, Vice President and General Manager of GE Additive, Mohammad Ehteshami revealed the company was working on a new metal 3D printer at the Materialise World Summit earlier this year.

The machine, currently a technology demonstrator, will overtake the current leader Concept Laser’s XLine 2000R with a build envelope of 800 x 400 x 500 mm. GE acquired Concept Laser last year and has incorporated the German company’s laser expertise in developing the ATLAS.

As the project has been under development for the past two years, in house expertise from GE will also have been vital.

The GE LEAP Fuel Nozzle. Photo via GE Additive

Aerospace application

The announcement was made at the Paris Air Show and GE explains the machine is tailored for the aerospace industry. GE has already advanced the use of 3D printing in the aerospace industry with the LEAP fuel nozzle.

GE will unveil the ATLAS project in greater detail at Formnext later this year. Mohammad Ehteshami Vice President and General Manager of GE Additive explains the potential of the 3D printing with the ATLAS for aerospace applications,

The machine will 3D print aviation parts that are one meter in diameter, suitable for making jet engine structural components and parts for single-aisle aircraft. The machine will also be applicable for manufacturers in the automotive, power, and oil and gas industries.

According to GE, the ATLAS demonstrator machine is the result of two years of development with several prototype iterations. GE has recently published two patents relating to the acoustic monitoring of metal additive manufacturing machines. The innovations both aim to improve repeatability and certification of metal 3D printed parts and may have been implemented in this new machine.

The Concept Laser XLine 2000R machine. Image via Concept Laser.
The Concept Laser XLine 2000R machine, the current largest laser powder machine. Image via Concept Laser.

Availability and release 

GE reports it is hoping to deliver the first machines in late 2018. As Ehteshami says,

We have customers collaborating with us and they will receive beta versions of the machine by year’s end. The production version (yet to be named) will be available for purchase next year.

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Featured image shows metal powder melting. Photo via GE Additive.