Aerospace

GE Aviation buys 27 Arcam EBM 3D printers to work on GE9X engine

GE Aviation, a multinational provider of jet engines, components, and integrated systems, has invested in 27 Arcam electron beam melting (EBM) machines to produce titanium aluminide (TiAl) blades for the GE9X Commercial Aircraft Engine.

GE Additive announced this significant investment at the 2019 International Paris Air Show. Karl Lindblom, General Manager, GE Additive Arcam EBM, said, “GE Aviation has doubled its fleet of Arcam EBM machines in a relatively short period.”

“We’re thrilled and it’s a great endorsement for our team, for EBM and in particular for the Spectra H.”

Testing of the GEnX series engine that contains 3D printed parts. Photo via GE
Testing of the GEnX series engine that contains 3D printed parts. Photo via GE Aviation.

Metal 3D printing for aircraft engines

Presently, Avio Aero, a GE Aviation company, operates a fleet of 35 Arcam machines at its recently expanded site in Cameri, Italy. With this new investment, 17 Arcam EBM A2X machines and 10 Arcam Spectra H metal additive manufacturing systems will be installed at GE Aviation and Avio Aero facilities in the U.S. and Europe.

EBM technology utilizes a high-power electron beam to rapidly produce parts with no residual stress in a controlled environment. According to GE Aviation, additively manufactured TiAl blades are half the weight of traditional nickel-alloy turbine blades. The Arcam EBM A2X machines are able to produce six blades per batch, while the Spectra H system can produce up to ten blades, in approximately the same time.

The GE9X engine, developed by GE Aviation for Boeing’s new 777X wide-body jet, is expected to benefit from weight saving on the TiAl blades as it enables fuel consumption reduction of 10% when compared to its predecessor, the GE90.

The GE Additive Arcam Spectra at RAPID. Photo by Beau Jackson.
The GE Additive Arcam Spectra H at RAPID + TCT 2018. Photo by Beau Jackson.

Additive manufacturing and aviation

Eric Gatlin, general manager, Additive Integrated Product Team, GE Aviation, explained, “Having a robust and reliable additive technology infrastructure in place is a critical component of the GE9X program.”

“Avio Aero’s Cameri site has been a great testing ground to see the Arcam EBM machines in action and how they scale. We’re looking forward to continuing the expansion in Cameri and rolling them out to a U.S. location in the coming months.”

Financial terms of this investment are not disclosed.

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Featured image shows Arcam machines at the Avio Aero, a GE Aviation company, additive manufacturing factory in Cameri, Italy. Photo via Avio Aero.

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