GE is committed to additive manufacturing (AM) with a global team of 600 engineers at 21 sites driving additive and other advanced manufacturing technologies.
In an exclusive AMazing® Q&A session, we asked Prabhjot Singh, manager of the Additive Manufacturing Lab at GE Global Research in Niskayuna, NY, about activities, technical advances and his general thoughts on additive manufacturing at GE.
AMazing®: There appears to be a lot of activity involving AM at GE. As GE is focused on the development of parts and components in additive manufacturing across its business portfolio, what types of projects are being developed in the Manufacturing Lab at GE Global Research?
Prabhjot Singh: Global Research supports our business units in the areas of design tools, selecting appropriate AM equipment, materials and materials systems technologies.
AMazing®: It is recognized GE is actively involved in process Quality Assurance to further transition additive from research to production. What technology initiative advances have occurred? What challenges have been encountered?
Prabhjot Singh: GE recognizes the vital role of in-process quality assurance in maturing AM technology. This is an active area of development.
The key challenges in implementing this technology for powder-bed AM processes, such as DMLM and EBM, are the development of high speed sensors, which can keep track of the laser/electron-beam which typically moves at 1-2 m/sec, data analytics methodologies capable of processing gigabytes of data created by these sensors, and the successful integration of these sensors with commercial machines.
AMazing®: We understand GE Researchers are developing ceramic matrix composites (CMC), exhibiting the heat resistance associated with ceramics with the strength of metal. Have any ceramic materials been developed for additive manufacturing use?
Prabhjot Singh: GE has conducted feasibility trials on the 3D printing technology of piezoceramics (electrical ceramics) for ultrasound sensors. This program was co-funded by the National Institute of Health and GE Global Research.
AMazing®: Further to the use of ceramic material or other, are there any plans to develop additively manufactured embedded Smart sensors for condition monitoring?
Prabhjot Singh: GE is exploring a host of condition monitoring sensing modalities including direct written sensors.
AMazing®: From our previous Q&A session, we learned that by using additive manufacturing, multiple parts maybe consolidated into one part, using a single material. Is GE conducting any research on additively manufactured multifunctional, multiple material (electrical, optics) components or systems in one operation?
Prabhjot Singh:Several efforts are underway to understand the best applications of AM technologies across GE.
AMazing®: Is there one additive manufacturing process that appears better suited to additively manufacture multifunctional, multiple material (electrical, optics) components or systems in one operation?
Prabhjot Singh: Probably not. A multi-modal approach would be more appropriate.
AMazing®: Within the additive manufacturing initiative, what technical advancements are needed most to continue to advance processing technologies at GE?
Prabhjot Singh: The following advances will be required to move AM forward:
Robust methods for the rapid qualification of process, materials and part geometries
High throughput, high yield machines
Improved materials properties
An inter-disciplinary approach involving materials, machines, sensing and software technologies is required to accomplish this.
AMazing®: As additive manufacturing offers inherent capabilities and flexibilities that conventional manufacturing does not, how different is the mindset toward designing a single component using conventional manufacturing methods versus additive methods? How different will the mindset be toward designing multifunctional, multiple material (electrical, optics) components or systems in one operation?
Prabhjot Singh: The designer needs to understand and adapt to the additional design freedom afforded by AM. While AM offers greater flexibility, certain considerations such as build time, surface quality etc. need to be kept in mind while designing parts for AM. GE has been looking at computational techniques such as topology optimization to help improve designs (low-weight) for components.
AMazing®: For those interested in a technical career (designer, quality engineer, inspector, non-destructing testing professional, researcher) in additive manufacturing, what career advice would you offer?
Prabhjot Singh: I think all these technologies will have a vital role to play in the success of AM. I see a role for both application engineers and researchers advancing the state-of-the-art.
AMazing®: Finally, what technical advances in additive do you envision five years from now?
Prabhjot Singh: I envision having improved throughput from AM machines (faster build speeds and improved uptime), more qualified materials, bigger build chambers and better design tools which help realize the design flexibility afforded by AM.
AMazing®: This concludes our Q&A session. Thank you very much Prabhjot. We are very grateful for your participation and insight; and in the process learning about GE’s progress and advances in additive manufacturing technologies.
About Prabhjot Singh
Prabhjot Singh is the manager of the Additive Manufacturing Lab at GE Global Research in Niskayuna, NY. His background is in additive manufacturing (AM) process development and the computational aspects of AM process planning.
During his graduate studies at the University of Michigan, he developed a process-planning framework for the five-axis layered deposition complex 3D CAD models. Upon joining GE, he developed a novel digital micro-printing system for producing ceramics. Currently, he leads the metal additive manufacturing activities at GE Global Research with a focus on the industrialization of laser powder-bed processes.
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About GE Global Research
GE Global Research is the hub of technology development for all of GE’s businesses. Our scientists and engineers redefine what’s possible, drive growth for our businesses, and find answers to some of the world’s toughest problems. We innovate 24 hours a day, with sites in Niskayuna, New York; San Ramon, California; Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; Munich, Germany; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Visit GE Global Research on the web at www.ge.com/research.
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