Last year, GE set up its multi-modal advanced manufacturing facility in Chakan, Pune in western India. The facility was established to produce jet engine parts, locomotive components, wind turbines, and a host of other additively and traditionally manufactured components for a number of GE companies. The facility now employs 1,500 workers, responsible for operating 3D printers and other machinery, reports 3ders.org.
The manufacturing unit in Pune will eventually produce critical end-use components such as the jet engine fuel nozzles, but first it will fulfill a more urgent need: 3D printing replacement parts for broken machinery. Replacement parts, especially for older appliances, can be incredibly difficult to source when those appliances are discontinued or simply made in small quantities. 3D printing these replacement parts is much faster than producing them using traditional manufacturing techniques.
“3D printing isn’t anything new at GE,” said Prabhjot Singh, Manager of GE’s Additive Manufacturing Lab in Schenectady, New York. “It’s been around for decades and has been typically used to repair worn-out or broken down, high-value industrial parts such as compressor blades or gears using laser cladding technology.”
The multi-modal facility in Pune and GE’s development and research center in Bangalore work closely, and the latter designs new products for the Pune plant to manufacture. “We work with GE colleagues all over the world,” said Vinod Kumar, who leads materials and inspection for GE Global Research in Bangalore. “We are part of any global team’s technology project, located in various parts of the world, from day one.”