What Does A Big Company Do With 3D Printing?

We’re reading a very interesting interview by Joris Peels, who spoke to Prabhjot Sing, General Electric’s Manager of GE Additive Manufacturing Lab at GE Global Research. 
The thought we had was: how does a very large company make use of 3D printers? Readers who have personal devices obviously have very different usage patterns. Here’s what Peels found:
  • GE has over 300 3D printers, covering almost all 3D printing processes
  • Equipment from many different manufacturers are employed
  • Most 3D prints are for research purposes, although there is recent investigation into 3D printing production airplane components by 2016
  • Their focus is to try to reduce the number of steps involved in creating a component by leveraging 3D printing’s ability to print arbitrarily complex objects
  • GE requires 3D print materials not currently offered by the manufacturers in order to go forward with their plans
  • They’re seeking ways to 3D print electrical components, like “resistors, inductors and capacitors”
  • Metal printed parts are almost strong enough for use, but GE requires a much better surface finish
There’s much more in the full interview at the link below. Peel’s analysis: 
It is in manufacturing where 3D printing can make the greatest impact. In speeding up company’s product development, letting them do more iterations and letting them do shorter run parts it can speed up their business as a whole.  It is in manufacturing where serious money will be made either by vendors or companies that outcompete by using 3D printing in their supply chain.
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