GE is starting a new lab at its global research headquarters in Niskayuna, New York devoted to turning 3-D printing technology into a viable means of manufacturing functional parts for a range of its businesses, including health care and aerospace.
3-D printing technology has improved to the point that these printers can make intricate objects out of durable materials , including ceramics and metals such as titanium and aluminum, with resolution on the scale of tens of micrometers (millionths of a meter). Companies such as GE and European defense and aerospace giant EADS are working to apply it where large numbers of the same part are needed.
GE has developed a new printing technology that spreads out a thin layer of a slurry composed of ceramic embedded in a polymer precursor. They are investigating the possibility of printing some airplane parts, a strategy that EADS has also recently pursued.