GE's Additive Development Center, just outside Cincinnati, Ohio, is charged with a simple mission: to lead, explore and advance the industrialization of 3-D printing.
That sounds like an intimidating task, but it is exactly what the ADC's team of 85 engineers, designers, production workers and artists have been doing since they got their start as Morris Technologies way back in 1994—long before the GE Aviation sign showed up outside their offices, before industrial metal printing had even made it to the U.S.
And that means, inside its walls, the ADC contains not only the most state-of-the-art equipment in the industry, but some of the most experienced, knowledgeable and innovative workers in the business.
Since being acquired by GE (IW 500/6) in November, 2012, those resources have all been tasked with proving out designs, techniques and procedures that, over the next decade, will redefine, reinvent and reimagine manufacturing at GE Aviation, the GE corporation and the industry as a whole.
Recently, the ADC opened its doors to IndustryWeek for an all-access tour of the facility and the machines that are making the future. What we found was a facility far more familiar—and far grittier—than we'd expected. And that might be the best sign that it is fulfilling its mission.