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Niskayuna, NY, United States, 2011/04/20 - In the race to make higher quality metal parts faster and more efficiently, scientists and engineers at GE Global Research have developed the “Superman” of machining technologies called Blue Arc™. NYSE: GE
• GE patented manufacturing technology carves out metal components three times faster than conventional milling processes;
• Reduces manufacturing time to make aircraft engine blisks from days to just hours;
• Requires 25% less electrical energy to machine parts.
Blue Arc™ can cut through tough engineering alloys used in aircraft engines and power generation turbines in just a fraction of time it takes using conventional milling processes. To learn more and see a video demonstrating this technology, visit Edison’s Desk at ge.geglobalresearch.com/.
When you see a jet engine out the window of a 747 airplane or have the chance to see a 400+ megawatt power generation turbine up close, it is an impressive sight. But what’s even more impressive is the extensive time and effort that goes into putting these products together. Building these products requires machining off several tons of metal into very precisely designed components. But with advanced technologies like Blue Arc™, we are literally removing hours, even days from these manufacturing processes.
“GE’s Blue Arc™ technology has given our manufacturing processes new found superpowers,” said Andy Trimmer, a chemical engineer in the Process Systems Lab at GE Global Research. “This has been especially useful in aviation, where we’ve been able to reduce the machining of aircraft engine blisks from days to just hours.“
Trimmer added,“In addition to saving time, Blue Arc™ saves electricity. BlueArc™ requires lower force to achieve high material removal rates compared to conventional machining. Since the equipment does not need to be as heavy duty for withstanding the machining forces, the motors used to drive the axes are smaller and use less energy. Being able to save on time and tooling costs is one thing. But when you also can reduce plant energy usage, this achieves the trifecta of best-in-class manufacturing.”
Today, GE’s Blue Arc™ technology is being used by its Aviation business for the manufacture of blisks used in its aircraft engines for commercial applications. Blisks are specially designed rotating parts with dozens of blades on the edge. They form part of the engine’s compressor section.
GE is exploring licensing opportunities with machine builders and OEM end users. BlueArc™ is a thermal cutting process that is classified as a roughing process. The thermal artifacts are removed using conventional machining. The main benefits from BlueArc™ are reductions in machining cycle time; lower tooling costs and the enabling of lean manufacturing concepts.
GE’s BlueArc™ technology underscores GE’s commitment to infuse advanced technologies into its manufacturing processes. Global Research is investing in a diverse array of more than 100 manufacturing and inspection technology programs and inventing new ways to make products. In October 2009, GE opened the Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center in Michigan that is dedicated to accelerating the development of next generation manufacturing technologies for GE’s industrial products. Together with GE’s Global Research network, the new Center is a vital part in GE’s strategy to successfully transition promising new technologies and processes from the lab to the manufacturing floor. These breakthroughs will redefine how products are made in the future.
About GE Global Research
GE Global Research is the hub of technology development for all of GE's businesses. Our scientists and engineers redefine what’s possible, drive growth for our businesses and find answers to some of the world’s toughest problems.
We innovate 24 hours a day, with sites in Niskayuna, New York; Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; Munich, Germany; and fifth global research facility to open in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012. Visit GE Global Research on the web at ge.com/research. Connect with our technologists at edisonsdesk.com and twitter.com/edisonsdesk.