GE Healthcare—a subsidiary of the American multinational conglomerate General Electric and provider of medical technologies and services—has announced the opening of its Innovative Design and Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center for Europe in Uppsala, Sweden.
The center is the company’s ‘first 3D printing lab’ and aims to reduce time-to-market for healthcare products. It incorporates metal and polymer 3D printers, collaborative robots—otherwise referred to as cobots—and traditional machining equipment.
A key objective of the center is for research and design teams and additive manufacturing (AM) engineers to work together as well as in collaboration with customers from the outset. They will design, produce and test 3D printed parts for GE Healthcare products and prepare them for manufacturing.
3D printing can bring significant advantages to manufacturing processes. For example, it can combine multiple parts into a single part, making fabrication easier and resulting in improved performance. This is especially beneficial in industries such as biomanufacturing that have complex processes and equipment made up of hundreds of different parts.
GE Healthcare and its customer Amgen—a USA-based multinational biopharmaceutical company—are currently testing the performance of a custom-designed, 3D printed chromatography column. It is hoped that the chromatography column can be used in Amgen’s research to develop improved processes for the purification stage of biopharmaceutical production.
‘We are exploring opportunities where additive can bring cost savings and technical improvements to our supply chain and products,’ explained Andreas Marcstrom, manager of additive engineering at GE Healthcare’s Uppsala site. ‘Simply printing a part doesn’t really deliver that much improvement to a product or process. You have to re-think the entire design; to do this, you need your R&D teams and your additive manufacturing engineers working from the start of the development process. Our center in Uppsala ensures that critical step.’
GE Healthcare has an Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. The teams at the center in Milwaukee will collaborate with the teams at the center in Uppsala, sharing knowledge and working on new design ideas.