thumbnail group

Connect With Us:

ME Channels / Event Coverage

GE Global Research Saves Big with Additive Manufacturing, Crowdsourcing

 Brett Brune







By Brett Brune
Editor, Smart Manufacturing


GE recently found a way to cut to three from 31 the number of parts used to make the fuel nozzle for its new LEAP engine—by turning to additive manufacturing. “That’s essentially because we’re getting around certain design constraints in traditional manufacturing,” Stephan Biller, chief manufacturing scientist at GE Global Research, told a standing-room-only crowd at the opening of the Mfg4 conference today in Hartford, CT.

In addition to believing that “additive manufacturing is going to change the world” and acting on that belief, GE is finding ways to digitize—in the biggest possible way—its search for new designs. 

As an experiment, the conglomerate recently posted on the crowdsourcing platform GrabCAD requests for designs to cut the weight of a bracket it had used in aviation for about 20 years, Biller said. It dangled $20,000 for the winning design and expected to get about 25 submissions. In a keynote address at Mfg4 in Hartford, CT, Stephan Biller, chief manufacturing scientist at GE Global Research, encouraged engineers looking for innovative additive manufacturing designs to give crowdsourcing a whirl. Photo by David Butler II

“Turns out, we got almost 700,” he said. And the winning design, from a person in Indonesia who had “very little formal engineering training,” cut the bracket’s weight by 84%.

Biller, who is among 30 smart manufacturing leaders profiled in the premier issue of Smart Manufacturing magazine (, urged people at Mfg4 who are involved in additive manufacturing to consider crowdsourcing.

“Think about what it means for your business. We got 700 designs extremely cheaply,” by using GrabCAD. “We essentially opened up a window to the world and said, ‘Please help us. Here’s what we’ll give you, and here’s what we want.’

“It might be something you want to try, and it might be something that could dramatically change the business model of your particular company,” he added. “Because your competitor is probably looking at that, and if they can get these designs that cheaply, maybe you want to look at that as well.”

Published Date : 5/4/2016

Editor's Picks

Advanced Manufacturing Media - SME
U.S. Office  |  One SME Drive, Dearborn, MI 48128  |  Customer Care: 800.733.4763  |  313.425.3000
Canadian Office  |  7100 Woodbine Avenue, Suite 312, Markham, ON, L3R 5J2  888.322.7333
Tooling U  |   3615 Superior Avenue East, Building 44, 6th Floor, Cleveland, OH 44114  |  866.706.8665