GE Aviation plans to invest $50 million in its Auburn facility to expand additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday.
The facility was the first in the aerospace industry to mass produce a jet engine component using 3-D printing.
This expansion will create 60 jobs and will bring new, more advanced additive production machines to Auburn. These additions will allow the factory to launch high volume production of a second engine part using 3-D printing.
“GE Aviation is at the leading edge of advanced aerospace additive manufacturing, and the company’s expansion plans at the Auburn facility will strengthen its technology leadership position,” Ivey said. “We look forward to seeing where the great partnership between Alabama and GE Aviation will take us both in an exciting future.”
The facility currently employees about 230 people with the facility likely to add up to 300 employees in 2019 before the announcement Wednesday.
This expansion will allow the Auburn factory to begin mass production of a 3-D printed bracket for the GEnx-2B engine program.
The facility was the first in the aerospace industry to mass produce a jet engine component using 3D printing.
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The company has invested over $100 million in the Auburn factory. In 2015 the factory began producing a fuel nozzle tip for LEAP jet engines through 3-D printing. In October 2018, the factory and its team celebrated the production of 30,000 3-D printed fuel nozzle tips, according to Ivey’s statement.
“We’re very excited for this new investment in our additive manufacturing operation here in Auburn,” said GE Aviation’s Auburn plant leader, Ricardo Acevedo. “Our success thus far is a testament to all the hard-working folks at this facility who are leading the way in advanced manufacturing. The future here is bright, and we’re glad to have such great support from the Auburn community and the state of Alabama.”
The additive manufacturing process GE Aviation uses creates parts using layers of fine metal powder and an electron beam or laser. This process allows for rapid production of highly complex parts without waste.
For example, the Auburn facility, which produces the single fuel nozzle tip, was able to male the tip into one whole piece instead of 20 pieces welded and brazed together used before additive manufacturing. This cut the nozzle’s weight down 25 percent, according to a statement from Ivey.
“We’re grateful for GE’s continued investment in our community, and we are proud to be the home of GE Aviation’s leading additive manufacturing facility,” said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders. “For years, Auburn has sought after technology-based industries, and this expansion is evidence of the value in that. Thanks to the team at GE, Governor Kay Ivey and her staff and all of those involved in bringing about this expansion. We look forward to GE’s further success, fueled in part by a workforce educated right here in Auburn.”
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