GE Oil & Gas to use additive manufacturing for printing metal parts and materials​

GE Oil & Gas (London, England) has inaugurated two new high-tech component production lines at its plant in Talamona, Italy. A new nozzle production line is the first completely automated line for the company, and a new additive manufacturing line will use laser technology to 3D-print end burners for gas turbine combustion chambers.

The upgraded turbine and compressor components manufacturing facility is the result of a EUR 10 million, two-year investment. Previous investments in 2013 increased the plant's production capacity.

The new nozzle production line is the first completely automated line in a GE Oil & Gas plant. It utilizes two anthropomorphic robots capable of employing 10 different technologies, including electrical discharge machining, measurement, and laser beam welding. With this new line, the company will be able to produce components in Talamona that it previously purchased from third-party suppliers.

GE Oil & Gas to use robotics and 3D printing in futuristic Talamona plant.

GE Oil & Gas is pioneering the industry's foray into additive manufacturing, which offers increased speed and accuracy in component production. The technology, also utilized heavily in the aviation, medical, and design industries, represents the next frontier for energy manufacturing. After extensive validation of additive manufacturing during prototyping of the NovaLT16 gas turbine, GE decided to move the technology into full production, leveraging the design enhancement capabilities, cycle time reduction, and improved product quality.

The site is also managed with software with the capacity not only to schedule activities, but also to support maintenance activity that is no longer simply "preventative," but "predictive."

GE has been investing and growing its work in additive manufacturing across R&D sites spanning Bangalore, India; Niskayuna, Japan; Michigan; Shanghai, China; and Munich, Germany. The applications for that work span the entire GE footprint, including the use of cobalt-chromium alloys for jet engines that were originally used for joint replacements and dental implants. Talamona coming online brings years of automation and 3D printing development and investment to fruition.

GE Oil & Gas opened an additive manufacturing lab in Florence, Italy in 2013, with the installation of the first direct-metal laser melting (DMLM) machine. Since then, the laboratory has grown its capabilities, thanks to the addition of two further machines for the development of turbomachinery components and special alloys. Collaborations with GE Aviation and GE Global Research Centre have significantly accelerated the development of the technology within GE.

The new production lines are already working and will be fully operational by the start of 2017.

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