The industrial fringe of Greenville, South Carolina, isn’t the most obvious place to go looking for a glimpse of things to come. But tucked behind railroad tracks and boxy factories you’ll find GE Power’s new Advanced Manufacturing Works, which officially opened Friday. The following images provide a glimpse of the new facility.
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GE engineer Vinson Blanton stands next to Autonomous Prime. The robot uses LIDAR eyes to move heavy parts around the factory. “It learns the room,” he says. “It can actually see us.” The new plant is training robots to handle “dirty, difficult, dangerous and dull tasks.”
The blue light 3D scanner allows engineers to precisely monitor how parts with complex shapes like turbine blades change over time after they start working.
The laser microjet machine (above) uses a thin stream of water to focus a laser beam (the ruby light inside the machine). It was originally developed for the diamond industry, but GE Power adapted it to make extremely precise cooling holes in turbine blades and other parts (see below).
Gas and jet engine turbines (see above) operate in extreme heat. Engineers designed an intricate system of cooling holes to keep them working at peak efficiency. The laser microjet allows them to use new designs that were previously impossible to manufacture.
The laser microjet can also cut tough and heat resistant supermaterials like CMCs.
The plant can make CMC parts in ovens and autoclaves like those pictured above.
There are rows of 3D printers at the new plant.
The engineers gave the 3D printers nicknames like Poison Ivy and Cat Woman. Industrial-grade 3D printing is still very new and each machine has its own behavior and character. Thet are are getting them ready for mass production.
Additive manufacturing engineer Chad Dulkiewicz with 3D printed test bars.
A DMLM 3D printer is making a piece for the world’s most powerful gas turbine, the GE 9HA.
This massive mill is making turbine blades for the world’s largest jet engine, the GE9X.
GE Power’s materials scientists use these two wind turbine blade forms to make stronger and more accurate with turbine blades from advanced polymers.
They can test finished blades at a test stand next door.
Filed Under: 3D printing • additive manufacturing • stereolithography, Industrial automation