Only two days into the 2018 Farnborough Airshow in the UK, and AM giant GE Additive has already made a slew of exciting new announcements. Most recently, the company reported the launch of its new Manufacturing Partner Network (MPN) along with a handful of new partnerships within the network, including Burloak Technologies, Carpenter Technology Corporation and Protolabs Inc.
GE Additive’s newly launched MPN has a simple enough goal: to accelerate the supply and demand for additive manufacturing through the establishment of an open and competitive marketplace. As part of this, it will address and seek to find solutions to a number of challenges currently limiting additive manufacturing’s commercial potential.
Overcoming adoption limitations
Among the challenges that companies face in the adoption of AM for volume production are limited access to equipment, limited funding to invest and lack of expertise. The AM suppliers, for their part, are looking to establish long-term business cases in order to invest and OEMs require a guaranteed source of capacity so they can invest “with confidence.”
The Manufacturing Partner Network will thus bring together a select group of AM specialists that both understand the potential of the technology and can push forward its adoption across the globe. Through it, GE Additive is aiming to help companies move into volume production of additive parts.
“We know first hand that the transition from prototyping to volume production is possibly the biggest step on any company’s additive journey and that can be daunting,” says Jason Oliver, President and CEO of GE Additive. “The MPN is designed to give companies a range of options to help them progress and continue innovating by connecting them with a choice of trusted additive production partners to give them peace of mind, in a cost-efficient way.”
Manufacturing Partners (or MPs) will also benefit from being part of the MPN, as they will have access to direct demand generation through a network of OEMs and revenue opportunities created by GE Additive’s sales teams. Further, in being an open network, the MPN is seeking to promote the sharing of knowledge and offers its partners access to over 150 AddWorks consultants and technical support.
MPs will also have the chance to test and provide input into new GE Additive technologies and products. Finally, the MPN will offer co-marketing support campaigns that include the ability to put the GE monogram on all sales, marketing and promotional materials, communications channels and buildings.
First partnerships established
Following the announcement of its new Manufacturing Partner Network at the Farnborough Airshow, GE Additive also reported on its first collaborations. Canadian company Burloak Technologies (acquired last year by Samuel, Son & Co.), U.S.-based Proto Labs and Carpenter Technology Corporation have become the first MPs of the GE Additive MPN.
As part of its agreement with GE Additive, Burloak Technologies will invest in GE Additive equipment, materials, software and technology with the goal of scaling production and industrialization of all works brought in through the MPN. The recently announced $80 million Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence being built by Burloak will reportedly integrate GE Additive systems and serve as a “potential source of offload capacity” for GE’s AM requirements. Burloak will also work with GE Additive as a materials development partner to advance material qualification processes and parameters.
“Burloak Technologies is proud to be a launch partner for GE’s Manufacturing Partner Network,” commented Peter Adams, Co-founder and President of Burloak Technologies. “We have developed a strategic plan for the industrialization of additive manufacturing. Our participation in GE’s MPN strengthens this plan and will allow us to accelerate the the adoption of additive manufacturing in the market.”
Protolabs has also joined the MPN as a launch partner and has committed to investing in GE Additive equipment, materials, software and technology. Similar to Burloak, it will leverage these to scale production and industrialization of MPN work with the ultimate goal of pushing adoption for volume production ahead.
“We already enjoy a strong relationship with Protolabs, so I’m thrilled that they will part of the MPN from day one,” said Oliver. “We share a similar set of beliefs around providing access to technology and experts, the transformative impact of additive and the power of collaboration and ecosystems.”
“We take pride in having been in the additive manufacturing industry for nearly 20 years, and we are excited to partner with GE Additive to further advance and democratize access to industrial-grade additive manufacturing technologies and materials,” added Vicki Holt, President and CEO, Protolabs.
Carpenter Technology Corporation, a steel and steel alloy manufacturer, is the third company to join GE Additive’s MPN. As a manufacturing partner, the company will offer end-to-end solutions through the development and deployment of AM technologies with a focus on powder materials, part printing, post-processing (such as hot isostatic press and vacuum heat-treat technologies) and more. It will offer its expertise in material development and innovation to the MPN to further progress AM.
“We are pleased to further our long-standing relationship with GE by entering into this important AM partnership as we help accelerate the advancement of AM across industries,” said Tony R. Thene, Carpenter’s CEO. “Partnering with an industry leader such as GE is an excellent opportunity for Carpenter to further advance our AM capabilities and network to bring highly differentiated AM business solutions to its customers and partners.”
Yesterday, GE Additive kicked off the Farnborough Airshow by announcing that Eaton’s Aerospace Group has invested in two Concept Laser AM systems as well as GE’s AddWorks consultancy services to evolve its additive manufacturing strategy. We’re expecting to hear more from the AM giant this week.