GE Additive developing laser powder bed fusion machine for metal parts up to 1m

GE Additive—the additive manufacturing (AM) business of American multinational conglomerate General Electric (GE)—claims to be developing the largest laser powder bed fusion (PBF) machine for metal parts, affording a build volume of 1m3 (1,000 x 1,000 x 1,000 mm).

The machine, as yet unnamed, is being tailored to the requirements of the aerospace industry and is expected to be used for single-aisle aircraft parts and structural jet engine components. However, it will also be suitable for use by manufacturers in the automotive and power industries.

The build geometry of the machine will be customizable and scalable for customers’ individual projects. The company anticipates that its feature resolution and build rate will equal or improve on those afforded by competing machines.  

Furthermore, the machine will be able to work with multiple materials, including reactive materials such as titanium and aluminum and non-reactive materials.

GE Additive has spent the last two years developing the machine and built several proof-of-concept machines. The initial technology demonstrator machine has been named ATLAS and will feature a build envelope that is 1m in at least two dimensions.

The ATLAS builds on GE Additive’s technology but also draws on the expertise of Concept Laser, a Germany-based manufacturer of metal laser melting AM machines that GE Additive has controlling ownership of. It is said that Concept Laser produces the current largest PBF AM machine, which has a build volume of 800 x 400 x 500.

The company announced the machine's development at the Paris Air Show, on 19-25 June, 2017, and its unveiling is to take place at Formnext powered by TCT, in Frankfurt, Germany, on 14-17 November, 2017.

Several of GE Additive’s customers will receive beta versions of the machine by the end of 2017. The production version is to be made available for purchase in 2018 and the company anticipates that the first deliveries will be made at the end of 2018.