Behind the scenes, General Electric (NYSE:GE) is arguably one of the most influential and important companies involved with 3-D printing. It currently has plans to 3-D print 45,000 fuel nozzles a year that will take to the skies in its upcoming Leap jet engine, which is significant because this project will take General Electric and 3-D printing where no advanced manufacturer has gone before -- to the realm of direct manufacturing on a larger scale. As you can imagine, this is quite an exciting time for Christine Furstoss, who heads ups General Electric's additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, research division.
According to Furstoss, when you boil it down, there are two aspects of 3-D printing she feels are the most powerful to General Electric. First is that with 3-D printing comes the ability to produce products that would be otherwise impossible or extremely cost prohibitive with conventional manufacturing methods. On a high level, 3-D printing is an additive layer-by-layer manufacturing process that excels at creating complicated designs at little to no added cost. For a company with the size and scale of General Electric, being able to use 3-D printing in a manufacturing setting could prove to be a huge cost-saver over the long term.
Secondly, 3-D printing is acting as the catalyst that's sparking a revitalization movement in the manufacturing industry that could ultimately lead to an innovation boom in terms of design and production. But what's most exciting to Furstoss about the rise of 3-D printing is how early on in the cycle we are today. In the video below, 3-D printing specialist Steve Heller asks Christine Furstoss what she thinks is the most powerful of aspect of 3-D printing for General Electric.