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GE Executive Sees 3D Printing Market Surging

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

MISSISSAGUA, ON — General Electric Co. expects 3D printing demand in balloon in various industries, an executive said.

GE (Boston) sees “a $76 billion opportunity” for additive manufacturing, Kirk Rogers, a 3D printing technology leader for the company, said at SME’s CMTS show outside Toronto.

Industries such as aerospace, oil and gas, medical and automotive are among the prime markets for additive, he said. At the same time, Rogers cautioned additive isn’t the answer to all manufacturing issues.

“Additive is the shining tool in the drawer,” Rogers said at the Tuesday keynote address for CMTS. “But don’t always pick it.” 3D printing, he said, “is not going to take over all of manufacturing.”

GE last year acquired majority stakes in Concept Laser and Arcam AB, part of a push to expand the Boston-based company’s additive manufacturing capabilities. GE plans to sell 10,000 3D printing machines over 10 years and expand additive into a $10 billion business for itself.

Rogers is based at GE’s Center for Additive Technology Advancement in Pittsburgh.

‘Fast Ride’

“We see growth across all areas,” Rogers said. “For GE, it’s been a very, very fast ride.”

GE-CMTS-e1506439877268-300x238.jpg
Kirk Rogers of General Electric Co. speaking at CMTS.

GE has been expanding 3D printing from a fuel nozzle for aircraft engines to its Advanced Turboprop engine, which reduces the number of parts to 12 from 855 with conventional manufacturing methods.

The company is working to develop additional 3D printed systems. “We have at least a dozen heat exchanger projects going,” he said.

The executive said additive needs improvement to advance.

For example, Rogers said, it usually “five pieces of software” between the time a part is designed and it is produced. “That’s a sore point.” Companies, including Siemens, are “on a path to reduce it from five to one or two,” he said.

The potential for cutting cost and creating new designs is driving additive growth, he said. “We’re starting to get into some really interesting sizes and shapes,” Rogers said.

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