GE Aviation’s plant in Auburn has become a leader in manufacturing highly sophisticated aviation components for the aerospace industry. The plant introduced a groundbreaking 3D printing initiative at the Alabama facility, which launched to make high-pressure jet engine blades using a Star Wars-like laser technology.
Since then, the plant runs over 25 additive (or 3D) printing machines around the clock to mass produce a sophisticated jet engine fuel nozzle. Additive manufacturing produces a nozzle that is 25 percent lighter and as much as five times more durable than a conventional nozzle constructed from 20 different parts.
The Alabama-made fuel nozzle is produced for the energy-efficient LEAP jet engines that are in high demand. In each LEAP engine, there are 19 fuel nozzles, meaning lots of work for the Auburn facility. By 2020, GE Aviation plans to operate more than 50 printing machines and 3D print 40,000 of the nozzles each year in Alabama.
A sister company, GE Intelligent Platforms, has a campus in Huntsville. The operation develops and designs high-performance, rugged computer systems for the defense and aerospace industries.