Engineers at GE are hard at work on the company’s new GE9X jet engine. This behemoth of an engine is being developed for Boeing’s next generation passenger jet, the 777x. GE boasts that the engine itself is more powerful than the first manned space rocket and wider than the body of the 737. At this point the company is taking steps to start building specific components using additive manufacturing with new heat resistant space age materials called ceramic-matrix composites (CMC’s).
GE doesn’t plan to put the GE9X to use until around 2020, but that isn’t stopping investors and early adopters. Currently the company has about 700 orders and commitments that total $28 billion. The company also has a joint venture with Safran Aircraft Engines for the new LEAP engine. This engine, developed by CFM international has already taken to the air and received orders for 12,200 engines valued at $170 billion.
GE Aviation needs to build more facilities to cope with the increased demand for their new engines. GE has just revealed that to accomplish this task it has invested $4.3 billion to manufacture in the U.S. and $1.1 billion abroad. The domestic investment includes $214 million in building five new plants in Ellisville, Mississippi; Auburn, Alabama; Asheville, North Carolina; Lafayette, Indiana; and Huntsville, Alabama. They’ve also upgraded two of their plants in West Jefferson, North Carolina and Hooksett, New Hampshire to deal with the new production goals. Furthermore, GE has opened two centers for additive manufacturing and emerging technologies like digital monitoring and CMC development.
Combined, their additive manufacturing plant in Cincinnati and the component production factory in Auburn have a total of 40 additive manufacturing machines. These printers operate on a daily basis to mass produce engine components for military and commercial use. While most of their production is taking place in the U.S., most of the engines will be exported to customers around the globe to areas like Asia, the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere. GE has stated that more than two-thirds of its $25 billion comes from international sales.
This is good news for manufacturers in the United States, with more than 25,000 of its 45,000 employees being located in the U.S. it seems GE is dedicated to American manufacturing. “We are introducing several highly proprietary technologies that are upping our manufacturing capabilities in the United States.” (http://bit.ly/2lSHERS) said Colleen Athens, Vice President and general manager of the GE Aviation Supply Chain. As of now it seems that production of these engines will remain in the States and hopefully other engine producers will follow suit, especially with the rise of additive manufacturing in the industry.