General Electric, 3D printing of the future will be by laser

The Boston-based company wants to revolutionize the world of 3D printing with a system already used by NASA that prints large objects by laser

General Electric has launched its own challenge to the world of 3D printers. The U.S. company is building the largest laser-printing machine to date. The device will be created by a new branch within the company, called GE Additive.

GE announced that the record-breaking 3D laser printer will shape metal parts and be able to make objects as large as one cubic meter. These days, 3D printing is making it easier to industrially manufacture a variety of products, from toys and shoes to food and prosthetics. But while almost all machines on the market use materials such as plastics and metals sprayed from a nozzle, GE will use a new manufacturing method called laser additive printing. It's a technique already used by NASA for parts for some spacecraft.

How it works

The laser printing technique allows objects to be made by melting metal additive materials into powders. In this way, the shapes and sizes of the created object will be of excellent quality given the meticulous creation layer by layer. According to GE, any shape can be made with this system. "We will use this printing technique - explains Mohammad Ehteshami, vice president and general manager of GE Additive - in the creation of parts for aircraft and other aircraft, but also in the creation of cars, motorcycles and even in the design of pipes and structures for the transport of gas and oil."

The technical characteristics

At the moment, the printer will be able to create objects in 2D using powders of some metals, especially titanium and aluminum. However, GE says that as soon as the printer is released, it will create 3D products. The first test machines will soon be delivered to General Electric collaborators, while the U.S. company will present the printer in November at the Formnext Show in Germany. The world's largest laser printer will arrive starting in 2018.