GE Aviation announced it has acquired the assets of two component suppliers, Morris Technologies and its affiliate Rapid Quality Manufacturing, which specialize in additive manufacturing of complex parts using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), stereo-lithography (SLA), and other additive manufacturing processes. Morris Technologies is focused on product design and rapid prototyping of finish products. RQM manufactures precision metal components using direct metal laser sintering.

The cost of the purchase was not announced. The buyer stated the purchase expands its engineering and manufacturing capabilities for jet engine production. GE Aviation plans to open two new U.S. manufacturing plants in 2013.

Additive manufacturing is the current name for a range of technologies used to produce three-dimensional products from digital (CAD) files, in an increasing range of metals, alloys, composite materials, plastics, and resins. Generally, the process is described as “3D printing,” because it involves converting the CAD information into horizontal slices that are replicated in a process like printing, by deposition of the build material and often using laser technology to bond the layers and solidify the material. 

There is a range of additive manufacturing processes in commercial use, and Morris Technologies indicates it uses DMLS, SLA, ‘polyjet’, and electron-beam melting to produce functional parts for aerospace applications. It also produces designs for medical and surgical equipment markets.

GE Aviation noted the parts that Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing produce “tend to be lighter than traditional forged parts because they don't require the same level of welding.   Additive manufacturing also generates less scrap material during the fabrication process.”

"Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing are parts of our investment in emerging manufacturing technologies," stated v.p. and general manager Colleen Athans of GE Aviation’s Supply Chain Division.  "Our ability to develop state-of-the-art manufacturing processes for emerging materials and complex design geometry is critical to our future.  We are so fortunate to have Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing just minutes from our headquarters.  We know them well."

Both companies are located in the Cincinnati area, where General Electric Corp.’s aircraft engine design and manufacturing subsidiary also is located. Both operations will become GE Aviation manufacturing centers.

GE Aviation indicated the two organizations have a total of 130 employees producing prototypes and finished parts.  

Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing have supplied GE Aviation and other GE subsidiaries in the past, and already are under contract to produce components for the GE Aviation’s LEAP jet engine, being developed by its joint venture CFM International.

CFM International is a 50/50 venture of GE with French aerospace manufacturer Snecma (SAFRAN.)  The LEAP engine — for which CFM has taken 4,000 orders — will power three different narrow-body aircraft when it goes into service later this decade.