GE Aviation has announced that it will spend $US 50 million upgrading its Auburn, Alabama factory, as it prepares to begin production of LEAP engines in 2015.
The Alabama Media Group reports that the announcement was made by GE and the Alabama Governor at the Farnborough International Airshow, near London, this week.
The engines will be made for the Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737 MAX and Comac C919 aircraft models.
The Auburn plant has had $75 million invested in it so far by GE since 2011, according to the company, employs 70, it will hire up to 300 more workers in the expansion. The site currently produces turbine blades.
"GE Aviation's decision to launch a 3-D printing initiative at its Auburn plant speaks volumes about the ability of an Alabama workforce to carry out cutting-edge manufacturing," said Alabama Governor Robert Bentley in a statement.
"This is tomorrow's technology, and we are proud to say it will be performed right here in Alabama.”
3Dprint.com reports that there are plans to have 10 additive manufacturing machines running by the end of 2015, with this potentially growing to 50.
The additive manufacturing plans for the next-generation LEAP engine have been the subject of interest since May last year. Each engine will contain 19 nozzles made by additive manufacturing.
GE says the nozzles will be lighter, five times as durable and require only a fifth of the number of brazes and welds as they used to.
Consultancy Wohlers Associates has called the LEAP announcement last year, “one of the most significant milestones in the history of the AM industry.”
According to the Wohlers Report 2014, there were 348 metal additive manufacturing machines sold worldwide last year, an increase of 75.8 per cent on 2012’s number.