GE Additive Announces ATLAS, world’s largest laser-powdered 3D printing machine
GE Additive, the 3D printing arm of General Electric, is at the forefront of developments in industrial 3D printing. Later this year, the company is due to release the world’s largest laser-powder 3D printing machine. The groundbreaking machine, which was announced at the Paris Air Show, is specifically designed for the aerospace industry, and will be unveiled in November at the Formnext Show in Frankfurt, Germany.
An advanced technique for manufacturing with nylons, metals, and other materials, laser-powder additive manufacturing machine works by directing a laser onto a bed of powder. The technique is useful for small-scale production as well as rapid prototyping.
GE Additive’s new laser-powder 3D printing machine will have a huge build volume of one cubic meter. Build geometry will be highly scalable and customizable based on a particular customer’s needs, and its feature resolution and build-rate speeds will be at least equal to those seen in current laser-powder 3D printing machines. It will be compatible with a range of different materials, including non-reactive and reactive metals, such as aluminium and titanium.
According to Vice President and General Manager of GE Additive, Mohammad Ehteshami, “The machine will 3D print aviation parts that are one meter in diameter, suitable for making jet engine structural components and parts for single-aisle aircraft,” said Mohammad Ehteshami Vice President and General Manager of GE Additive. “The machine will also be applicable for manufacturers in the automotive, power, and oil and gas industries.”
Initial demonstrations of the technology will be carried out on a machine called ATLAS, which has been in development for two years now. ATLAS will be “meter-class” in at least two different directions. Beta versions of the machine will be released to clients by the end of the year, and first deliveries of the finished machine are slated for early 2018.
The current largest laser-based 3D printing system on the market, which GE’s machine will be surpassing, is one developed by Concept Laser, the X LINE 2000R. Its build volume is 0.8 m x 0.4 m x 0.5 m, with dual lasers each boasting 1000W of power output, and it has been particularly popular with aerospace and automotive clients, as well as the jewellery industry. (Larger metal 3D printers have been built, but these use non-laser systems.)
Concept Laser is majority-owned by GE, after a significant expansion in the 3D printing market by GE last year, and GE’s new technology is in fact heavily based on that developed by the German 3D printing specialist, which reported a record sales increase of 88 percent last year. Until the GE machine arrives to break records, you can take a look at our feature from last year on the 20 biggest 3D printers so far.