Wilmingtonbiz logo
Print
Technology

Crowd Learns About 3D Printing Boom

By Jenny Callison, posted Jan 17, 2014
(Kurke)
Three experts on additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, described the potential for the technology to a capacity crowd at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on Thursday.
 
The primary presenter was Tom Kurke, former president and chief operating officer of Raleigh-based GeoMagic, a developer of 3D software for creating digital models of physical objects.
 
Fran Bolger and Marty Swan of GE Hitachi’s engineering team in Wilmington also spoke, demonstrating the way in which additive manufacturing is being used by GE Aircraft to make seamless parts for GE’s new LEAP engine and by GE Hitachi to make individual pieces of equipment used at Dominion Virginia Power’s North Anna plant in Virginia.
 
Kurke talked about the explosive growth the 30-year-old 3D technology is experiencing, thanks to the drop in prices for scanners and 3D printers themselves. He cautioned, however, that the best equipment in the world can’t produce objects without high quality software to render a printable image of the object.
 
How big a market does additive manufacturing represent in the U.S.? Kurke said that revenues are about $2 billion at present and have grown 20 percent or more per year over the past five years. Because the technology is best applied to low-volume, customized design work, its biggest growth has been in the consumer/hobbyist sector.
 
“The makers’ movement has just mushroomed,” he said, referring to the community of hobbyists who use technology to design and create objects.
 
Bolger said that additive manufacturing, despite the fact that it is still a slow process and not suited to mass production, holds real promise for GE. The company is investing about $3.5 billion over five years in the technology, he said.
 
“Its best applications are for rapid, functional prototypes and improved performance,” he said. “It represents a cost reduction for complex, multi-component assemblies, creating high-value products for low-volume, customized designs.”
 
Swan said that seamless 3D-made parts are well suited for use at nuclear plants because they hold up under very demanding conditions and are relatively inexpensive when making just a few copies.
 
Thursday’s event was the first session in a series the center is sponsoring this year that will focus on innovation as a spur for entrepreneurship.

Join The Discussion

Similar Stories

Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT

Book On Business

Bob2017

The 2017 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!
Print Only
$24.95 - Qty
Print + Excel File
$79.95 - Qty

In The Current Issue

Blueberry Commercial Branches Out

Once upon a time there was Blueberry Fusion, an upstart photography and videography company. In 2013, the company dropped the “Fusion” and rebranded as Blueberry Creative. Last month, business partners Adam Gilbert and Austin Stinson debuted a new brand – Blueberry Commercial.

Info Junkie: David Morrison

Info Junkie David Morrison, nonprofit adviser in-residence at UNCW's CIE, on his tech and app picks....

Run-Through: Theaters’ Performance Numbers

It’s been a little more than a year since the Wilson Center opened on the Cape Fear Community College campus, leaving questions about how th...

Ico topnews Editor's Picks

City Officials To Hear Rail Realignment Update

Cece Nunn - Feb 17, 2017 Trending News

Sound Bank Announces Merger With Raleigh-based Bank Company

Jenny Callison - Feb 17, 2017 Trending News

Officials: GE Hitachi Facing Layoffs

Vince Winkel - Feb 17, 2017

HVAC Firm To Expand In Wilmington With Blue Clay Road Facilities

Cece Nunn - Feb 17, 2017
Contractors

Puroclean

Ico trending Trending News

Ico newsinimages News in Pictures

Have a tip, pitch or guest column?  Send us a tip.

Gallery Galleries

Video Videos

Wilmington's Most Intriguing People of 2016
WilmingtonBiz Expo - Key Note Lunch with Keynote Lunch with Chip Mahan - 2016

Register to Continue Seeing Wilmington's Best Business Coverage!


There are three ways to register for free.

Sign in with LinkedIn, Facebook or create an account:



Already registered? Login here.

Your free registration includes:

  • Access to 10 articles per month on WilmingtonBiz.com
  • Email updates to stay informed on local business news
  • A mobile optimized website
  • Advanced notification of Business Journal events
  • Management of your digital and print subscriptions
Laptop iphone ipad