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

In The Current Issue

First South Bank Expands Through Purchase

First South Bancorp Inc., the parent of First South Bank, which has one branch in Wilmington, recently announced that it has signed an agreement to purchase the branch banking operations of nine Bank of America locations in the coastal area.

SEAHEC Plans Women’s Health Care Summit

The South East Area Health Education Center (SEAHEC) will sponsor the second annual Coastal Women’s Healthcare Summit on Sept. 11 and 12 at...

Baby Boomers Face Shortage In Housing Options

A recent national study on the housing problems baby boomers face, including shortages, high costs and a lack of accessibility features, com...

Ico topnews Editor's Picks

New 256-apartment Complex Planned For Independence Boulevard

Cece Nunn - About 4 hours ago Trending News

VantageSouth Becomes Yadkin Bank In Wilmington, Eastern N.C.

Jenny Callison - About 5 hours ago

New Apps Link City, Chamber, CVB In Information Network

Cece Nunn - Sep 17, 2014

McCrory, Tata Unveil ‘Road Map’ For State’s Transportation Future

Jenny Callison - Sep 17, 2014
Wealth Management

Pathfinder Wealth Consulting

Business owners helping business owners plan, achieve and protect their family wealth. We offer unbiased comprehensive financial planning, risk management unique to family owned businesses, retirement ...more

Ico trending Trending News

Ico newsinimages News in Pictures

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

Gallery Galleries

Video Videos

Power Breakfast Series - Special Sauce for Economic Development - March. 2014
WilmingtonBiz Expo Keynote - Ken Lowe - Founder HGTV, CEO Scripps Networks - March. 2014

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