GE engineers produced this model of a GEnx jet engine using an advanced 3-D printing technique called direct metal laser melting. The additive manufacturing team at GE Global Research in Niskayuna, N.Y., built the model, which measures about 1.5 inches long.
They first drafted the object with its moving parts in a digital design file, which guided a high-tech machine that fired a laser at a tray of metal powder. The laser melted layer upon layer of powder onto the growing model until it was complete. Its rotating parts were printed in an assembled state, so no fitting or welds were required.
This additive manufacturing method is producing a growing list of parts for numerous industries, making stronger components with less material waste that are impossible to create using traditional techniques.
If you’re a 3-D printing aficionado, check out GE’s Open Innovation competition, where we invite entrepreneurs, companies and institutions to offer their solutions to additive manufacturing challenges in design and production.