GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt may have announced his upcoming retirement earlier this week, but GE is moving right along with business as usual – particularly GE Additive. The additive manufacturing division of the massive corporation has announced that they are partnering with medical device manufacturing company Stryker, to support the latter’s advancement in 3D printing technology. Stryker isn’t new to 3D printing – last January, the company announced that they would be building a multimillion-dollar additive manufacturing facility, which recently opened in Carrigtohill, County Cork, Ireland. In fact, Stryker first invested in additive manufacturing in 2001, but has recently been pursuing the technology more aggressively.

“GE and Stryker share a similar vision and both of us understand the transformative power of additive design and manufacturing,” said Vice President and General Manager of GE Additive, Mohammad Ehteshami. “We regard Stryker as one of the most experienced practitioners of metal additive, with a range of commercialised medical products. We will continue to innovate with new additive products, materials, and technologies, which will support their growth.”

Stryker’s 3D printed Tritanium PL Interbody Cage

At least one of Stryker’s recently developed 3D printed medical devices has been doing well; a few months ago, the company published a pre-clinical trial of their 3D printed Tritanium Posterior Lumbar Cage Spinal Implant, a 3D printed metal implant with a porous structure that resembles spongy bone tissue. The device, which hit the market in late 2016, has been well-received, and the opening of the additive manufacturing facility and partnership with GE mean that we’ll likely be seeing a lot more 3D printed medical devices coming from Stryker in the near future.

“Working with GE Additive and leveraging their expertise is a very compelling proposition for Stryker,” said John Haller, Vice President of Global Supply at Stryker. “We believe this collaboration will accelerate our additive manufacturing journey and support our mission to make healthcare better.”

Stryker has been collaborating with universities in the UK and Ireland to industrialize 3D printing for health care, and has already invested in 3D printers from Concept Laser and Arcam, which GE acquired last year. Speaking of Concept Laser 3D printers, GE Additive made another announcement this week: they’re adding Predix platform capabilities to all Concept Laser M2 cusing machines. Predix was developed by GE Digital, and is used by GE to gather and analyze data from machines.

Beginning in September, all Concept Laser M2 cusing and M2 multilaser machines will be delivered to customers with Predix edge technology installed. Customers will be able to remotely monitor and collect data from their 3D printers, allowing them to analyze trends and improve performance. This inclusion is in line with GE’s previously announced strategy to focus on the customer experience.

“What you’re witnessing is the beauty of the GE Store,” said Ehteshami. “We’ve taken the best technology from GE and applied it to Concept Laser’s additive machines, improving them and making our customers more efficient and more productive.”

With Predix, customers will be able to know exactly when their 3D print jobs have finished, regardless of where they happen to be at the time, and will also know if machine parameters are running on trend or outside of their control limits, leading to better quality management. Early detection notifications will be sent to their mobile phones, reducing down time. Several updates will also be coming in the future, and will give customers the ability to predict when preventative maintenance is needed, create their own applications to review and analyze the data that they want, and control the ability for real-time parameter modifications.

“We want customers to fully utilize their capacity and realize the full potential of their machines,” said Ehteshami. “All of this information will be available to them from the cloud, accessible from anywhere.”

Discuss in the GE forum at 3DPB.com.

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