By using additive manufacturing (commonly referred to as "3D printing"), GE Aviation has eliminated 845 parts for its Advanced Turboprop Engine (ATP), which will power Textron Aviation’s Denali turboprop single, GE Aviation president and CEO David Joyce said yesterday during a company investor call on additive manufacturing. Parent company GE also announced on the call it has acquired two suppliers of additive manufacturing equipment—Arcam and SLM Solutions Group—for $1.4 billion.
Joyce noted that using additive manufacturing for the ATP engine “represents an elimination of thousands of machining features and inspections, and hundreds of quality plants and procurement contracts.” The ATP will have no structural castings, as well as a “significant” weight benefit, he added.
GE Aviation has been working with the FAA “to make sure that everything we’re doing we can verify for certification,” Joyce said. “Additive-manufactured parts will meet the same FAA standards as any other parts, whether they are forged, welded or machined substractively or additively.”
Meanwhile, GE Aviation is using a one-piece, additive-manufactured turbine frame assembly for one of its jet engine development programs as an example of "enterprise productivity." With additive manufacturing, “the frame assembly can be created in one design file produced by eight engineers, manufactured and inspected using one additive machine and will be repaired at one source with access to all designs and manufacturing information linked through Predix,” GE’s additive manufacturing design software system. With conventional assembly, that would require 40 different data systems, 300 individual parts designed by 60 engineers and manufactured at more than 50 facilities.