GE chooses Auburn for advanced education program in 3-D printing
GE has chosen Auburn University as one of only eight universities from around the world to participate in the GE Additive Education Program. Auburn will receive a state-of-the-art Concept Laser MLAB 100R metal printer as part of this program, which will support Auburn’s ongoing research and education initiatives in additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing.
A GE advisory group composed of engineers and additive manufacturing specialists chose Auburn out of more than 250 applicants because of its established additive manufacturing curriculum and extensive research initiatives within the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.
"Auburn Engineering is a national leader in industrialized additive manufacturing," said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering. "Companies such as GE have asked for our help in graduating engineers who are well versed in additive manufacturing and prepared to lead American industry into the future.
"We responded by developing new curricula so students learn how to design for additive manufacturing systems. We are also investing millions of dollars in the latest 3-D printing technology and hiring world-class faculty to teach our students. This award further strengthens our relationship with GE, and we look forward to even greater collaboration with them in our education and research programs."
Additive manufacturing involves fabricating parts layer-by-layer from metals, plastics or other materials based on a 3-D computer-aided design model. Because parts are made by building upon each layer, additive technology reduces waste in the manufacturing process, improves production speed and can create parts that are lighter and more durable than those made using traditional manufacturing methods.
With the ability to create highly complex parts in a fraction of the time, additive technology is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry and creating new opportunities for engineers to explore. As an industry leader in this area, GE is using additive manufacturing to mass produce fuel nozzle injectors for jet engines at its plant in the city of Auburn’s Technology Park West.
Auburn Engineering faculty are also researching other ways to employ additive technology, such as producing next-generation rocket engines for space flights to Mars or developing intricate medical implants for use during surgery.
Auburn has created a new Center for Industrialized Additive Manufacturing, directed by materials engineering professor Tony Overfelt, and hired internationally known faculty working in this growing field of research. The university’s newly renovated Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory opens later this year and will feature dedicated space for Auburn’s additive manufacturing research, including upgraded and expanded testing equipment.
GE’s Additive Education Program was created to support colleges and universities such as Auburn that are educating students in additive manufacturing technologies. Through the program, GE is investing $8 million over five years to provide up to 50 metal additive machines to higher education institutions around the world. The printers are valued at $250,000 each.
"Additive manufacturing and 3-D printing is revolutionizing the way we think about designing and manufacturing products," said Mohammad Ehteshami, vice president of GE Additive. "We want a pipeline of engineering talent that have additive in their DNA. This education program is our way of supporting that goal."
BY CHRIS ANTHONY
Lab technician Mike Crumpler, left, and materials engineering professor Tony Overfelt examine metal components in the lab. Overfelt is director of the Center for Industrialized Additive Manufacturing and principal investigator on a $1.5 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to research ways for smaller manufacturers to incorporate additive technology into their processes.