Over the years, GE has partnered with and acquired leading producers of 3-D printing
equipment and technology to build its capacity and increase the sophistication of its output.
Precision-engineering firms Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing, which GE
purchased in 2012, are two examples of strategic acquisitions that increased GE’s arsenal of
3-D printers and broadened the company’s technological expertise.
Furstoss estimates that today nearly 1,000 3-D printers are in use across the corporation.
The majority of these are deployed for rapid prototyping, enabling GE’s engineers to visualize a
new component, create it and test it prior to wider production. A smaller proportion of printers
is dedicated to higher-generation materials, such as metals and ceramics. In a move to build
more technical capacity, GE in 2013 purchased the aviation business of Avio, an Italian maker
of aviation components and systems with the largest additive manufacturing factory in the
3-D printing helps to overcome a major hindrance to traditional manufacturing, the time
required to validate design, Furstoss says. Creating a single part using traditional manufacturing
methods requires the creation of a mold and new tools prior to production. With 3-D printing, a
part can be created in mere days, allowing for faster design and accelerated improvements to
create better, safer products. A truly transformative technology, 3-D printing is revolutionizing the
way companies like GE design and create new products with fewer constraints. //
— Kathryn Mulligan, associate editor, Middle Market Growth