How 3-D Printing Fits Into Advanced Manufacturing at General Electric Company

In an effort to keep up with booming aviation demand, General Electric has pledged to invest more than $3.5 billion between 2013 and 2017 to expand its advanced manufacturing facilities. Part of this investment will be directed toward General Electric's ambitions to 3-D print up to 45,000 fuel nozzles a year for its upcoming LEAP jet engine.

General Electric has taken a liking to 3-D printing in recent years because it invites design possibilities that allow it to create fundamentally better products over conventional manufacturing methods. For instance, a 3-D printed jet engine fuel nozzle is five times stronger and 25% lighter than its conventionally manufactured counterpart, and is 3-D printed as one finished part instead of the 18 it would normally need with conventional manufacturing.

In the following video, 3-D printing specialist Steve Heller asks Stephan Biller, Chief Manufacturing Scientist at General Electric, where 3-D printing fits into the advanced manufacturing picture. Going forward, General Electric investors should continue to monitor how General Electric pushes the boundaries of 3-D printing and advanced manufacturing to determine if it can gain a competitive advantage.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Steve Heller: "Advanced manufacturing" covers a lot of different topics. In your opinion, professionally, what is your take on where 3-D printing, additive manufacturing, fits into advanced manufacturing?

Stephan Biller: When I think of advanced manufacturing, I think of two parts. One is product enabling; the other one is cost reducing and improving agility, and throughput, and quality, and so forth.

Additive manufacturing [3-D printing] actually fits into both, but it's mostly, I would say, product enabling. We can make parts we have never been able to make before. We [General Electric] can now reduce the number of parts in that fuel nozzle, I think, from over 30 to just a couple. Those are really amazing changes within manufacturing, that additive manufacturing [3-D printing] enables.

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Steve Heller has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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