General Electric has developed an additive manufacturing machine to produce large, complex metal parts.

GE Additive says the “beta” machine is the first of the US manufacturer’s innovation programme ATLAS, which stands for additive technology large area system.

Capable of producing “large components with high resolution and complex geometries” to aerospace-class standard, GE says the machine was designed to be customised and scaled for individual requirements in different industries, including the aerospace, automotive, and energy sectors.

“Irrespective of industry, every customer has its own specific needs and its own unique levels of complexity. We regularly hear that next-generation machines need to be customisable and configurable,” states GE Additive vice-president Mohammad Ehteshami.

The current machine can handle parts measuring 1.1×1.1×0.3m. But the latest dimension can be extended to “1m and beyond”, GE notes.

It asserts: “The machine’s feature resolution and build rate speeds are better than machines available today.”

Currently equipped with a single 1kW laser, the manufacturer says further lasers could be added.

The machine was developed over a nine-month period and involved Swedish additive manufacturing process specialist Arcam and German-based Concept Laser. Both companies are majority-owned GE units.

GE says: “The first few BETA machines are currently being evaluated by a small group of customers and more are available for delivery in 2018.”