An Italian high-tech component production centre building 3D printed burners for gas turbine combustion chambers, and a robotically automated nozzle production line, form the basis of GE’s new ‘centre of excellence’.
The GE Oil & Gas plant in Talamona, Italy, is the first completely automated production line in the company, with the nozzle production line utilising two anthropomorphic robots capable of employing 10 different technologies, including electrical discharge machining, measurement and laser beam welding.
Production of 3D printed parts at the facility comes after extensive validation of additive manufacturing technology during the prototyping of GE’s NovaLT16 gas turbine, and will be fully operational by the start of 2017.
GE Oil & Gas decided to move the technology into full production, leveraging the design enhancement capabilities, cycle time reduction and improved product quality.
“The use of automated production and new techniques like additive manufacturing allow us to develop parts and products more efficiently, precisely and cost-effectively, accelerating the speed at which we can bring product to market,” said Davide Marrani, general manager Manufacturing for business Turbomachinery Solutions at GE Oil & Gas.
“Our investment in these technologies at this site reflects our ongoing commitment to combine cutting edge technology and new manufacturing processes to lower cost and accelerate the innovation, speed and performance of industrial products.”
GE Oil & Gas opened an additive lab in Florence, Italy in 2013 with the installation its the first direct metal laser melting machine. Since then, the laboratory has grown its capabilities thanks to the addition of two further machines for the development of turbomachinery components and special alloys.
Collaborations with GE Aviation and GE Global Research Centre have significantly accelerated the development of the technology within GE.
“The opportunities for the application of additive manufacturing and 3D printing in the oil and gas industry are only just starting to be explored, and it will require an ongoing rethink of component design and production approach,” said Massimiliano Cecconi, GE Oil & Gas Materials & Manufacturing Technologies executive.
“GE Oil & Gas is fostering the development of this technology to produce complex components for gas turbines, while cutting costs, boosting performance and reducing emissions.”