3D Printers

GE beta launches ATLAS metal 3D printer at formnext 2017

GE, together with its company Concept Laser, has launched a beta ATLAS laser powder bed fusion metal 3D printer. The printer, first reported exclusively by 3D Printing Industry in April and formally announced in June is notable for its large build volume and customisability.

The 3D printer is the first in GE’s Project ATLAS series (Additive Technology Large Area System), a program across GE Additive, focussed on the development of large additive machines.

The printer’s key features

The printer features a build volume of 1.1 x 1.1 x 0.3m, along the X, Y and Z axes respectively. This build volume is larger than Concept Laser’s largest machine to date, the X LINE 2000R.

The ATLAS 3D printer prints using a gantry-based architecture and a 1kW laser, with which a 3D scanner is able to “translate” an object.

Within the printer’s build chamber, discrete dosing saves powder and costs, while calculated air flow over the print area allows greater control over print quality. Process and machine health monitoring are enabled by GE’s Predix software.

A 3D printed component at GE's formnext 2017 booth. Photo via Michael Petch.
A 3D printed component at GE’s formnext 2017 booth. Photo via Michael Petch.

Application-focussed customisability

The ATLAS 3D printer will be ideally suited to large complex metal parts in the aviation, automotive, space and oil and gas industries. The printer’s scalable capabilities allow it to be configured and customized for specific industry applications.

Complex geometries with high resolutions  can be produced using the machine’s inbuilt laser, or improved using the capacity to incorporate additional lasers. For larger 3D printed objects, the ‘Z’ axis to can be extended to 1.0m and beyond.

The GE booth at formnext 2017. Photo via Michael Petch.
The GE booth at formnext 2017. Photo via Michael Petch.

From drawing board to beta product

The printer was developed in 9 months and is set to be manufactured in Lichtenfels, Germany and Cincinnati, Ohio. It is set to be released initially to a set of beta testing customers, before being released more widely in 2018.

“Bringing innovation and technologies to market in just nine months demonstrates exactly what we mean by accelerating the additive manufacturing industry,” said Frank Herzog, founder and CEO of Concept Laser. “Our Project ATLAS is one way we are helping our customers be more efficient and nimble as the sector matures,”

Unveiling GE’s latest machine, Mohammad Ehteshami, Vice President and General Manager of GE Additive, explained that “irrespective of industry, every customer has its own specific needs and its own unique levels of complexity.

“We regularly hear that next-generation machines need to be customizable and configurable. The new meter-class machine we’re debuting at formnext is our response to that feedback.”

GE is exhibiting at formnext 2017 in booth E30, Hall 3.0 until 17 November.

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Featured image shows GE unveiling their ATLAS metal 3D printer at formnext 2017. Photo via Michael Petch.