In the centre of this massive takeover was then-CEO of Morris Technologies and Principal at RQM Greg Morris, who is now behind the Additive Strategy & Business Development wheel at GE Aviation. As an innovator in international additive manufacturing development for aviation, Morris makes a very valuable addition to the TCT Show + Personalize speaker line up for this month's event.
Morris's presentation is entitled Additive Metal Applications within the Aerospace Industry Today and Tomorrow and aims to look in some depth at the current applications of the technology where additive metals are being used in aerospace, both from a "new product introduction standpoint, as well as a production standpoint". The expert will continue to share with the audience the main challenges and future opportunities additive manufacturing in aerospace is set to face, not to mention predictions for the near-to-long term.
This theme is significant to Morris, who said: "From an 'additive world' perspective, we live in exciting times! Additive technologies are still relatively young and there is so much potential for these technologies to both create efficiencies as well as revolutionise how certain products and parts are made."
"Generally speaking," he added, "It is rare to see a technology explode on the manufacturing landscape and change the rules of the game as additive manufacturing has. In fact, we are seeing entire business models change and evolve and we are witness to very interesting competitive dynamics within a variety of industries."
Morris admits that as an early adopter who has been immersed in the growing industry for 20 years, he finds it fascinating to watch the speed at which the sector is growing. "I find it incredibly energising to be involved in a small way in where this is all going," he said.
Although this is Morris's first time speaking at TCT Show + Personalize, pre-acquisition he manned the Morris Technologies stand and recognises that one of the benefits the Show has is its international audience. He claimed to be looking forward to directing his theories and forecasts to them when he steps onto the stage on the afternoon of September 25th.
"TCT obviously has a very strong European presence and given Europe's critical and leading role in many areas within the additive community, TCT sets the stage for stimulating and timely discussions and analysis of our industry in a very important-to-additive part of the world," Morris remarked.
The expert acknowledged that the industrial side of additive manufacturing is growing at pace, but said he does not mind that most of the media attention the industry in general has been receiving of late has been focused on the consumer side, as it gives the industrial sector time to "mature".
"I believe industrial additive manufacturing applications trail the more visible aspects," Morris said. "With that being said, I do think there's probably still too much 'hype' and misinformation regarding what additive manufacturing means. We are in an intensive education period of time where engineers and designers are learning about how best to apply additive technologies, where to apply them and when not to use them.
"Typically, with the industrial applications, and in particular with industries such as aviation, the amount of compliance required for the various applications will far exceed the more mundane uses of 3D printing. Thus, it is critical additive manufacturing is fully understood and vetted before it makes its way onto an aircraft engine, a body implant, etc. For this reason, although we hear the media hype the promise of additive manufacturing for the industrial sector, I believe it is still relatively mooted and this can only serve the industrial additive manufacturing uses well in the long run."
"The beginning of a steep curve"
GE Aviation is, according to Morris, fully embracing additive manufacturing and the engineering giant is excited to be introducing additive metals into its next generation engine the LEAP 56. The application of additive manufacturing is for the fuel nozzles, "a demanding application in a harsh environment where any material and manufacturing methodology would be stressed".
"The fact that GE Aviation has picked this critical component as our first production, flight-worthy additive manufacturing hardware part speaks volumes about the maturity of the technology and the ability of the technology to make its way into some of the most complex and demanding applications imaginable. Many other companies will also be introducing additive metal parts into future engines, airframes and other aerospace applications in the next few years, and I believe this will spark an immense amount of additional applications as the technology is validated in this manner," Morris stated.
But far from getting a handle on this cutting-edge, highly sophisticated manufacturing technique, the expert believes the world is actually only at the first base camp of what will prove to be a particularly challenging mountain to scale.
"There is no question we are at the beginning of a very steep curve relative to what the future holds," he said. "From all angles, additive manufacturing technology is accelerating at a very rapid pace. I look forward to the future state of additive machines where we will have larger build envelopes, much higher throughput, quality control and process monitoring that allows us to see and control every pixel of what we are building, novel materials and a variety of surrounding capabilities that will change how many parts and products get made in the future.
"We are at the very beginning of an enormous shift in manufacturing and it will be the technological advancements that will propel us to heights that I don't think anyone believed could be achievable just a decade ago."