Chris Day of GE Aviation Takes the World to WorkOn December 4, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
Hi, I’m Chris Day, Senior Staff Engineer here at the additive Technology Center in West Chester, Ohio. This week, GE Aviation employees and I are taking over social media channels to bring you a sneak peek at the GE9X—the largest and most powerful commercial jet engine in the world. Welcome to day one: Additive and Design. At the ATC, we’re leveraging the power of additive to produce lighter, more durable, and more efficient designs than ever before. When we made the GE9X we knew it was not gonna be an easy task. So we got creative. 11 foot diameter 10 to 1 bypass ratio and a 10% increase in fuel efficiency. In other words, the GE9X is a monster and it wouldn’t be possible without the use of additive. One of the main advantages to additive is part reduction like what we did with this CT7 Mid-frame and all these parts combined into one. We’ve got some heat exchangers over here and oh, this parts my favorite because my team and I actually designed it. It’s a mighty powerful inducer. The air comes in over here and out here. This part actually cleans debris from the engine to make it last longer. The magic, all on the spin. This is where it all starts. In these rooms we brainstorm, conduct design reviews before we bring our parts to life. Let’s see if they’ll tell us anything. Hey John, what’re y’all working on? We’re not really supposed to share this information, but what the heck! We are talking… I can’t believe they told you all that. Looks like I’m getting a video call from one of my colleagues in Bangalore, India. Let’s say hi. Hello everyone, this is Anusrita. I’m a Senior Engineer in GE Bangalore Engineering Center in India. I work closely with Chris and additive team providing engineering analysis and manufacturing support. There’s a Senior CAD Designer over there, Peggy Porter. Let’s go say hi and see what she’s doing. I am using our 3D CAD software to run wall thickness analysis on our inducer part. This allows us to see the internal walls of the part prior to printing to make sure we print it right the first try. Very cool, thanks so much, Peggy! Thank you, see ya. Now that we have a digital model we can build a plastic prototype. And here we are in the plastics prototyping lab. So Matt, what’s the plastics lab doing in a metal facility? Very helpful in terms of visualization. It’s a tangible item that can be moved in space and be seen by many eyes at one time. Ultimately, dial the design in to its most to its optimum form. So let’s take this now and visit my friend Sam in the materials lab to see if we can turn this from a plastic prototype into an actual metal part that can survive the extremes of the engine. Hey Sam. Hey Chris. Right now I’m actually looking at a part on this microscope here. I’m looking at the surface roughness. So on my screen right now it looks like it’s a map, but it’s actually the real surface of the additively manufactured part. What about your other screen, what’s that over there? So in the materials lab we also like to look at the grain structure of the material after it’s been through all of the processing steps. We want to make sure that the part will have the properties that the design intended because of the high temperatures and pressures in the GE9X engine. So we’re ready to print! Alright so once we got our design from engineering, and we got our material selected, it’s time to make the magic happen. We take high-power lasers that shoot from up here and they come down here and we’re able to print things that are as thin as a human hair and they weld on top of each other and that’s how we’re able to create our complex geometries that are good for our aircraft engine parts. So with that said, let’s get this build started. So there you have it, a finished additive doublet. But our job doesn’t stop there, does it Antroine? No it doesn’t. To make one or two pieces is easy, but we have to make thousands. Takes a lot of hard work, a lot of strategy, and we do all that here at the ATC. We’re actually we’re the first company to make additive FAA approved hardware. Thanks for joining me today at the ATC to see how we use additive to produce parts for the GE9X— the largest, most powerful commercial jet engine in the world. Tune in tomorrow where we’ll see the behind the scenes of Development Assembly and how all the parts come together. Bye!