Leuven, Belgium – GE named LayerWise as winner of its worldwide open innovation challenge, the 3D Printing Production Quest. The winning submission of LayerWise proves the company’s capability to produce complex medical imaging device parts with high precision. High-end metal 3D printing capabilities mastered by LayerWise help drive greater product performance, higher quality, and more significant cost savings for healthcare customers. 3D printing technology has been developed by LayerWise to build up material in layers instead of removing it in different steps. In the machine, the beam from a fiber laser is directed to metal powder particles in order to selectively build up thin subsequent horizontal metal layers.
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As part of GE’s global 3D Printing Production Quest, LayerWise, a leading worldwide production center exclusively focusing on Metal 3D Printing, produced a complex high-precision part using a refractory metal. This company and two other winners were selected by GE based on analysis of their dimensional capabilities, as well as material-related and other qualitative aspects of their entries.
As the worldwide medical imaging market is expected to reach €25 billion ($35 billion) by 2019, GE envisions additive manufacturing enabling new component designs that greatly simplify manufacturing and reduce cost, while improving image quality and diagnostic capability.
Refractory metals have high density, allowing them to effectively block x-rays without the environmental and health hazards associated with lead. 3D printing of refractory metals is particularly challenging because such metals also have very high melting temperatures—up to 3400°C (6000°F). They are used in x-ray systems to control the path of x-rays from the source through the patient’s body and in some components, such as x-ray source tubes, that take advantage of the high melting temperature.
Peter Mercelis, managing director of LayerWise, says, “Through many years of experience and by acquiring full control over the layered manufacturing technology, LayerWise really masters the powder-to-solid transformation. Winning the quest reconfirms that LayerWise is a world leader in 3D printing high-tech metal materials. This is one of the reasons LayerWise collaborates with renowned medical, industrial, and aerospace manufacturers in Europe, USA, and beyond.”
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