Jun.11, 2013

GE's aviation division, the world's largest supplier of jet engines, is using laser printers to print fuel nozzles for next-generation jet engines. "We already know that it can be done, we've been playing with it for a while," says Michael Idelchik, who runs GE's advanced technologies research.

"Now we want to develop an ecosystem of designers, engineers, materials scientists, and other partners who can learn with us. We have a number of products that we are going to be launching and we want to challenge people to get into business with us. If the ecosystem grows, the entire industry will grow." says Idelchik.

GE today announced at the RAPID 2013 Conference that it is launching two global additive manufacturing quests that invite entrepreneurs, companies and institutions to offer their solutions: a 3D Printing Design Quest for technologies used in healthcare and a 3D Printing Production Quest for an aircraft engine bracket.

3D Printing Design Quest: Redesign the Aircraft Engine Bracket

The design quest tasks participants to create the best 3D-printable design for an aircraft engine bracket. GE asked participants to "completely reimagine" the bracket, which supports critical jet engine components during handling, and make it 30 percent lighter.

"You need to understand software and creative design, the unique properties of the printing machines, and meet the functional requirements of the parts like strength and the ability to handle vibrations," Idelchik says. "If we can make a relatively simple part like the bracket so much lighter, imagine what you could do with complex parts. We would like to see some of the people who enter the challenge to become our suppliers as we launch new products."

The top ten designs will be awarded $1,000 each. Partnered with GrabCAD, GE will manufacture and test the top 10 designs. The top 8 designs will receive awards from a total prize pool of $20,000.

3-D Printing Production Quest: High Precision and Advanced Manufacturing

This quest asks participants to use 3D printing technology to produce highly precise and complex parts with high precision. Such parts will have potential application in medical imaging and a broad spectrum of other GE businesses.

Up to ten winners from the first phase will be awarded $5,000 and invited to participate in the second phase, which includes prototype fabrication with specified materials. GE and its partner, Nine Sigma, will then select Up to three winners who will be awarded $50,000 each.

Idelchik says that the time is right for 3-D printing. "How this ecosystem will develop will define how far additive manufacturing will go," he says. "I believe that we will get some outstanding participants with breakthrough ideas who will like to start a business."

A Tale of Two Brackets: An example of a geometrically optimized bracket (bottom) that weighs 30 percent less than the standard version, but achieves the same level of performance. Credit: GE


The first phase of both quests will be open from June 11, 2013 to July 26, 2013.

Detailed information about the challenges and how to enter is available here.


Posted in 3D Printing Events



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Gary Anderson wrote at 6/29/2013 8:33:02 PM:

I think an article pointing out how GE can cut 25% of their production time by using Sigma Labs and their PrintRite3D technology to make micro-adjustments in real time, during the print would be of interest to your readers. Just a suggestion- Thanks

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