Rail transport company Wabtec Corporation has just announced its investment in GE Additive’s new H2 binder jet 3D printing technology. The 3D printer will be used by the Pennsylvania-based company to print large, complex parts, enabling it to grow its use of additive in the transportation industry.
Last month, engine and power generation system manufacturer Cummins Inc. became the first company to adopt GE Additive’s metal binder jet 3D printing technology. The technology itself was first unveiled by GE in 2017, when it revealed Project H1, a prototype binder jetting system.
With the H2 3D printer in its production arsenal, Wabtec will be able to further investigate how AM can be integrated into its business to transform—and improve—its products and supply chain. Wabtec has already identified 250 components that could benefit from additive manufacturing and plans to transition them to the technology by 2025. GE Additive will work with the transportation company to support the industrialization strategy.
“Additive is one of the key technology pillars for our company and central in our efforts to drive innovation in the industries we serve,” said Philip Moslener, global director of the WabtecOne Platform & Applied Innovation. “This binder jet machine will help us design and produce reliable low-cost components for our current and developmental engines, locomotive, transit and mining programs.”
The rail transport company has already received its first H2 binder jet 3D printer, which is housed at GE Additive’s labs in Cincinnati. A team from Wabtec will be co-located at the lab to work on technology development with GE Additive until the machine is transported to the company’s facility in Grove City, PA later this year.
At this stage, GE Additive is offering its innovative metal binder jetting platform to strategic partners in an effort to scale the technology into pilot lines and eventually into full industrialized solutions. The 3D printing system is expected to become commercially available in 2021.
“Throughout 2019, a multi-disciplinary team at GE Additive developed the second generation ‘H2’ binder jet beta machines. Today, parts are being printed on those machines, which we understand provide the largest format and fastest build speed currently on the market,” said Josh Mook, Innovation leader at GE Additive.
“Fast forward to early 2019, and we launched the H2 beta testing and partner program,” he continued. “We deliberately sought out partners and key customers, like Wabtec, who are committed to mass production, but also known and respected for their commitment to the early adoption of innovation. Most importantly, we want to partner with customers whose businesses will benefit tremendously from Binder Jet’s ability to reliably print large, complex parts at high throughput and low cost.”
GE Additive’s binder jetting platform functions like most others: a print head moves aross a bed of metal powder, selectively depositing a liquid binding agent, layer by layer. Once the desired part has been built up in the print bed, the “green” part is removed and placed in a sintering oven, where the binder is removed and the metal powder is fused into a solid part. Currently, Stainless Steel 316 is the only material supported by the H2 system, though more metals, including low carbon steels, are in development.