GE Turns to Hybrid 3D Printing Tech for Oil and Gas in Japan

GE Turns to Hybrid 3D Printing Tech for Oil and Gas in Japan

Multinational giant General Electric has been among the biggest and most outspoken adopters of 3D printing beyond prototyping. It has been establishing several AM plants for its jet engine division (working on their LEAP engine). Lately it began implementing AM in its newest “flexible manufacturing” plant in India. Now, it is Japan’s turn, with the locally produced LUMEX Avance-25 metal 3D printer hybrid systems by Matsuura being implemented to produce control valve parts in the Kariwa Oil and Gas Plant.

“We consider this metal 3D printer to be the best means for delivering high-grade products that meet the customer’s individual needs in the shortest amount of time and with increased cost competitiveness,” Mitsuaki Sakonju, the Kariwa plant Director, said. “GE’s Kariwa plant will continue to work to provide its customers in Japan with the most suitable control valve products and solutions in the shortest amount of time possible by making full use of its accumulated knowledge and the latest technology.”

GE has been shaping up the factories of the future, using the custom solutions offered by industrial 3D printing in order to meet the specific requirements of a production plant and leveraging the specific characteristics of a particular area of the world. In Japan, this has meant partnering with Matsuura, the local manufacturer of industrial machinery that has been among the first (possibly even the very first) to develop a hybrid metal additive manufacturing and CNC milling machine, capable of producing parts by laser sintering/melting and finishing them in a single automated process.

GE Turns to Hybrid 3D Printing Tech for Oil and Gas in Japan

The Masoneilan control valve parts have special, complex configurations – such as hollow structures, curved shapes, and meshes – that make 3D printing an ideal technology. The AM machines also made it possible for a specific component, which would have taken 3 months to be manufactured by traditional methods, to be produced in around two weeks.

“A completely new form of product manufacturing has been realized through the advanced technology of the metal 3D printer and the full utilization of that technology through the outstanding creativity of Japanese designers,” said Alvin Jeffers, Senior Executive for GE Oil & Gas’ Global Supply Chain, praising the work of Matsuura engineers, whose benefits are particularly evident in supply chain management.

“Advanced manufacturing has changed the conventional definitions and mechanisms of manufacturing, namely design and production, while offering an abundance of merits to customers, such as faster manufacturing times and greatly reduced costs. I am confident that it will become a new standard in the manufacturing industry in the near future,” Jeffers concluded. GE is certainly leading the way and many other companies will have to follow suit, if they don’t want to be left in the past of manufacturing.

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