Dec 22, 2011

GE Scientists Decorate the Christmas Tree With 3-D Printed Ornaments

Scientists at GE Global Research are back in the holiday spirit. As an encore to the redesign of Santa’s sleigh and construction of a state-of-the-art “Toy Lab” for Santa and the elves, researchers are bringing high-tech manufacturing to Christmas tree decorations to ring in the holiday season using additive manufacturing techniques.

Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, is the practice of building up material to directly form a net-shape product rather than forming a product by traditional methods such as forging, casting or machining material away. For GE, it is providing new degrees of product design freedom and the opportunity to reduce the time, cost and use of materials that go into making our products.

The 3-D printing process is highlighted in a new video posted to Global Research’s You Tube channel. Juan Pablo Cilia, a Rapid Prototyping Specialist at GE Global Research, takes you through the entire process step-by-step from his initial design drawings on the whiteboard to a computer-aided design (CAD) that is the blueprint used to print the ornament itself. In addition, you will see the actual printing of the ornament in action.

“3-D printing techniques are creating beautiful ornaments that would not be possible using traditional manufacturing methods. It’s beginning to look a lot like a ‘3-D’ Christmas,” said Prabhjot Singh, Manager of GE’s Additive Manufacturing Lab. “

“The 3-D Christmas ornaments represent a creative way to showcase the possibilities in additive manufacturing to achieve revolutionary new product designs. At GE, Juan Pablo and members of my team see tremendous opportunities to use these processes to transform and improve the products we make from commercial aircraft engines to medical imaging systems.”

GE already is producing intricately designed parts and components for aircraft engines using additive technologies and has an innovative program in healthcare to simplify and reduce the cost of how ultrasound probes are made. Members of the Additive Manufacturing Lab are exploring new frontiers to expand the application of 3-D printing techniques across GE’s business portfolio.

Singh said, “As 2012 rapidly approaches, members of GE’s Additive Manufacturing Lab are looking forward to a very active year ahead. We will be hosting a technology summit on Additive Manufacturing, bringing in key stakeholders and thought leaders from industry, academia and government to discuss the future of this emerging manufacturing trend. We have only just begun to tap into its vast potential.”