GE to push boundaries of what is 3D printable

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Pittsburgh, PA - General Electric 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 to both challenges: 1) a 3D Printing Design Quest for an aircraft engine bracket and 2) a 3D Printing Production Quest for technologies used in healthcare. 

"GE is committed to leading the next manufacturing revolution through innovative hardware, material and process advancements. This revolution depends on collaboration with external innovators and partners. These Quests will help us to convene and engage this community in meaningful ways and ultimately build an additive manufacturing ecosystem that scales the industry to new heights," said Mark Little, senior VP and CTO, GE Global Research Center.

Additive manufacturing is a key part of the advanced manufacturing revolution. GE has already reduced production times by up to 25% and achieved cost savings without sacrificing performance by putting additive technologies to work on an industrial scale. Continued external collaboration with fabrication leaders will accelerate the application of these technologies to further increase the speed and quality of innovation. 

The additive manufacturing quests, which leverage GE’s prior successful Flight and Hospital quests in a new space, are launching with partners GrabCAD and NineSigma. Both are open to the public. The first phase of both quests will be open from June 11, 2013 to July 26, 2013. 

3D Printing Design Quest

* The design quest tasks participants to create the best 3D-printable design for an aircraft engine bracket. 

* The top 10 designs from the first phase will win $1,000 each and will be additively manufactured and tested by GE during phase two.

* The top eight designs in the second phase will be awarded from a total prize pool of $20,000. 

* GE has partnered with GrabCAD to launch the design quest. During the quest, GrabCAD’s online community of more than 650,000 global engineers will have a chance to submit their CAD design solutions to a panel including some of GE’s brightest engineers. 

* Today, creative makers worldwide are invited to apply here. 

* See Official Rules for details. Must submit at least one entry by July 26, 2013 to be eligible for phase two. Must be 18 years of age or older. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. 

3D Printing Production Quest: High Precision and Advanced Manufacturing

* This quest asks participants to use 3-D 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. 

* An objective of this quest is to broaden GE’s supplier network of high-end 3D fabricators with sophisticated production capabilities. 

* 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. Up to three winning prototypes will be awarded $50,000 each. 

* GE has partnered with Nine Sigma to launch the production quest. 

* This open innovation quest will be judged and tested by industry experts in fields of additive manufacturing and engineering. 

* Today, 3D printer fabricators worldwide are invited to apply here.

* See Official Rules for details. Contest opens on June 11, 2013. Must submit at least one entry by July 26, 2013 to be eligible for phase two. Must be 18 years of age or older to participate. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

Combining GE’s technology and scale with GrabCAD and NineSigma’s communities of innovators and open innovation platforms will inspire and facilitate the creative collaboration needed to generate new solutions to some of the toughest additive manufacturing challenges. 

More information on the quests can be found at http://www.ge.com/OpenInnovation

Greg Morris, Strategy and Business Development for Additive Technologies at GE, said, "GE is always looking for new ways to bring great ideas to life, and we're excited to tap the creativity and skills of GrabCAD and NineSigma’s significant membership databases. New approaches, including additive manufacturing and crowd-sourcing design concepts, are just a few of the ways we are accelerating our design process."

GE’s focus on additive technologies is part of its continued leadership in advanced manufacturing. GE is the world’s largest user of additive technologies  in metals, with a full-scale additive manufacturing facility in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a global team of 600 engineers, spread across 21 sites. 

(Editor's note: GE will be the subject of a feature article on laser assist manufacturing in the November/September issue of Industrial Laser Solutions.)

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(Image via Shutterstock)

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