GE uses 3D printing to produce control valve parts

GE Oil & Gas is using the latest in metal laser sintering hybrid milling machines (metal 3D printers) at its Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture, Japan, to manufacture GE’s Masoneilan control valve parts with special configurations for use across various applications across the energy industry.

The use of metal 3D printing offers several benefits. One is that it is now possible to manufacture control valve parts with complex shapes, such as hollow structures, curved shapes and meshes, which are difficult to make using conventional additive manufacturing methods, thereby allowing for a substantial improvement in design freedom. Another merit is that it makes integrated moulding possible, which reduces the steps required for processing mould dies, realizing faster manufacturing times and lower cost when compared with conventional methods.

Until now, GE has used metal 3D printers at its headquarters in the United States to manufacture parts for its jet aircraft engines. However, this is the first time that GE has introduced a metal 3D printer at one of its locations in Japan. The Kariwa plant uses the LUMEX Avance-25 metal 3D printer, manufactured by Matsuura Machinery Corporation, and is the first in the world to combine both additive manufacturing processes using a fibre optic laser and milling processes by a machining centre into one unit.

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