GE Works on Cold Spray Tech to 3D Print Bigger Stuff

Posted Date 12/21/17

GE researchers are working on 3D printing technology involving gas dynamic cold spray technology, which would enable the 3D printing and repairs of bigger metal parts. The researchers are combining cold spray with robotics and machine learning.

Cold spray is a material deposition process. It works by moving solid particles at supersonic speed using a gas jet. This jet is fired from a nozzle attached to a robotic arm. When the stream of particles is released, it attaches itself to a substrate layer, much like a liquid but unlike a liquid the particles cool off quickly and form an atomic bond with the layer. This is what makes cold spray tech so suitable for the restoration and 3D printing of metal parts: it does not involve the same degree of heat and does not change the mechanical properties of the original object.

The problem with cold spray is that it’s wanting in the precision department. To mend this, the GE researchers have added a second robotic arm to the one that fires the metal particles spray: the second arm will hold the item that is being sprayed. What’s more, they are using machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve the robots’ performance.

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