GE Additive, the division of General Electric which is focusing specifically on developing and industrializing AM technologies, is establishing a “Customer Experience Center” in Munich, Germany – the first of several GE Additive centers (they are 18 already) planned worldwide to accelerate the use of additive manufacturing.
The Munich center will allow current and potential customers to experience first-hand designing and producing components using additive manufacturing. Up to 50 GE Additive employees will operate the center, including technicians and engineers specializing in additive design and production.
The center, launched with an investment of about $15 million, will adjoin GE’s Global Research Center (GRC) in Munich, and is expected to be operational by year’s end. Up to 10 additive machines from Concept Laser of Germany and Arcam EBM of Sweden (leading additive providers in which GE has majority ownership) will be installed.
GE’s Munich center will augment the customer training and support centers within both Arcam and Concept Laser facilities. Like the Arcam and Concept Laser sites, the Munich center will be a distribution center for critical spare parts.
GE Additive continues grow its global infrastructure – as evidenced by this new Munich site as well as by its on-going expansion of the Concept Laser headquarters in Lichtenfels.
At the Munich customer center, the additive machines will be enhanced by GE’s cloud-based Predix operating platform to enable industrial-scale analytics and GE Edge devices, which provide real-time control and monitoring. Customers will benefit from hands-on training and instruction at the facility, covering additive design, machine operations and support.
“The concept of customer experience centers is an integral part of GE Additive’s strategy to expose and engrain the additive technology to manufacturers worldwide,” said Robert Griggs, general manager of the Customer Experience Centers for GE Additive. “We expect to announce the second GE Customer Experience Center later this year with others to follow.”
GE Additive selected Germany for its first center to align with the GRC in Munich as well as to the manufacturing, sales, and service centers of both Concept Laser (a leading provider of powder-based laser machines) and Arcam (provider of electronic beam additive machines). GE acquired majority ownership of both companies in 2016.
GE’s GRC in Munich has been involved in additive research for several years. It recently took delivery of three Concept Laser and two Arcam machines, and is producing additive parts. GRC will work closely with the neighboring Customer Experience Center in the education and demonstration process.
In addition, the Customer Experience Center will have access to additive engineering talent from several nearby universities. “Germany is a pioneer for the entire additive manufacturing movement,” said Griggs, “so it was no coincidence we choose Munich to open our first center.”
Earlier this month, the Mubadala Development Company announced it is teaming with GE Additive and the Dubai Future Foundation to develop microfactories in United Arab Emirates to accelerate the use of additive and digital manufacturing technologies in the Middle East region.
Additive manufacturing involves taking a digital design from computer aided design (CAD) software and melting/sintering together in a layer-by-layer manner, using a laser or an electron beam as the energy source. Additive components are typically lighter and more durable than traditional forged parts because they require less welding and machining. Since additive parts are essentially “grown” from the ground up, they generate far less scrap material. Freed of traditional manufacturing restrictions, additive manufacturing dramatically expands the design possibilities for engineers.