3D Printing in Conventional Manufacturing
"The technology could be used to make parts that perform better and cost less."
Technology Review Feed - Energy Top Stories Download time: May 9 2011 7:57 AM ET
GE is starting a new lab at its global research headquarters in Niskayuna, New York, that's devoted to turning three-dimensional printing technology into a viable means of manufacturing functional parts for a range of its businesses, including those involving health care and aerospace. The company aims to take advantage of the technology's potential to make parts that are lighter, perform better, and cost less than parts made with conventional manufacturing techniques.
Technology for printing three-dimensional objects has existed for decades, but its applications have been largely limited to novelty items and specialized custom fabrication, such as the making of personalized prosthetics. But the technology has now improved to the point that these printers can make intricate objects out of durable materials, including ceramics and metals such as titanium and aluminum, with resolution on the scale of tens of micrometers.
As a result, companies such as GE and the European defense and aerospace giant EADS are working to apply it in situations more akin to conventional manufacturing, where large numbers of the same part are needed.…
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