Evendale, OH - GE Aviation and Sigma Labs Inc. have signed a joint technology development agreement to advance and implement in-process inspection technologies for additive manufactured jet engine components. The mutually developed inspection technology will verify the quality and geometry of additive manufacturing components during the additive build process, increasing additive production speeds up to 25 percent in support of GE Aviation's growing production rates.
By conducting those inspection procedures while the component is being built, GE Aviation and Sigma labs will expedite production rates for GE's additive manufactured engine components like the LEAP fuel nozzle.
"We are pleased to have signed the agreement and to begin the next phase in demonstrating our PrintRite3D technology for additive manufacturing of metal parts," said Mark Cola, president and CEO of Sigma Labs. "Together, we will be focusing our efforts in working to assure the build quality and as-built repeatability of additively manufactured aircraft engine components, thereby ensuring predictable materials properties critical to successful product commercialization."
By 2020, GE Aviation will produce more than 100,000 additive manufactured components for the LEAP and GE9X engines. GE will install 19 additive-manufactured fuel nozzles on every LEAP engine, which has amassed more than 4500 orders. The LEAP fuel nozzle is up to 25 percent lighter and five times more durable than traditionally manufactured fuel nozzles, leading to significant fuel savings.
Additive manufacturing enables optimized designs for complex components. GE Aviation uses additive manufacturing methods such as direct metal laser melting (DMLM) to build 3D-designed production engine components that traditional manufacturing methods are incapable of producing.
GE's additive manufactured components weigh less than conventional parts because they replace complex assemblies with single pieces, reducing the need for brazing and welding. Additive manufacturing also generates less scrap material during the fabrication process.
The additive manufacturing process involves taking digital designs from CAD software and laying horizontal cross-sections to manufacture the part. The process creates the layered cross-sections using a laser beam to melt the raw material.
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