GE Oil & Gas uses 3D printing to produce control valve parts

GE Oil & Gas is using the latest in metal laser sintering hybrid milling machines (metal 3D printers) at its Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture, Japan, to manufacture GE's Masoneilan control valve parts.

Tokyo, Japan - GE Oil & Gas is using the latest in metal laser sintering hybrid milling machines (metal 3D printers) at its Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture, Japan, to manufacture GE's Masoneilan control valve parts with special configurations for use across various applications across the energy industry.

The use of metal 3D printing offers several benefits. One is that it is now possible to manufacture control valve parts with complex shapes, such as hollow structures, curved shapes, and meshes, which are difficult to make using conventional additive manufacturing methods, thereby allowing for a substantial improvement in design freedom. Another merit is that it makes integrated molding possible, which reduces the steps required for processing mold dies to realize faster manufacturing times and lower cost when compared with conventional methods. An example of the substantial contribution that the metal 3D printer can make to reducing delivery times is that it allowed for a specially shaped component, which would have taken an estimated three months to produce using conventional manufacturing methods, to be manufactured in about two weeks.

"A completely new form of product manufacturing has been realized through the advanced technology of the metal 3D printer and the full utilization of that technology through the outstanding creativity of Japanese designers," says Alvin Jeffers, senior executive for GE Oil & Gas' global supply chain. "Advanced manufacturing has changed the conventional definitions and mechanisms of manufacturing, namely design and production, while offering an abundance of merits to customers, such as faster manufacturing times and greatly reduced costs. I am confident that it will become a new standard in the manufacturing industry in the near future."

"We consider this metal 3D printer to be the best means for delivering high-grade products that meet the custome'’s individual needs in the shortest amount of time and with increased cost competitiveness," says Mitsuaki Sakonju, the Kariwa plant's director. "GE's Kariwa plant will continue to work to provide its customers in Japan with the most suitable control valve products and solutions in the shortest amount of time possible by making full use of its accumulated knowledge and the latest technology.”

Until now, GE has used metal 3D printers at its headquarters in the US to manufacture parts for its jet aircraft engines. GE Healthcare in Japan has been actively implementing and promoting "advanced manufacturing," which represents a new type of "manufacturing" through the introduction of a 3D plastic printer at its Hino factory. However, this is the first time that GE has introduced a metal 3D printer at one of its locations in Japan. GE will work to utilize this printer's outstanding capabilities to develop a new "manufacturing" that can meet the wide variety of needs of its customers in Japan in a timely manner.

The Kariwa plant uses the LUMEX Avance-25 meta fiber laser 3D printer, manufactured by Matsuura Machinery Corporation, and is the first in the world to combine both additive manufacturing processes using a fiber optic laser and milling processes by a machining center into one unit.

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