GE Healthcare Opens 3D-Printing Lab, Prints Equipment for Biomanufacturing

GE Healthcare opened a 3D printing lab in Sweden that will speed the launch of products for bio/pharma manufacturing, such as a custom chromatography column.
Oct 03, 2017
By BioPharm International Editors

GE Healthcare has opened its first 3D printing lab, called the Innovative Design and Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center for Europe, in Uppsala, Sweden, the company announced on Oct. 3, 2017. The center will use technologies including 3D printing (i.e., additive manufacturing) and robotics to speed up the launch of new innovative products for the healthcare industry.

The center combines advanced manufacturing technology, such as metal and polymer printers and collaborative robots, with traditional machining equipment. Benefits of 3D printing include the freedom to create designs that could not be manufactured using traditional methods and the ability to combine multiple parts (e.g., of a piece of equipment) into a product manufactured as one piece. For example, a 3D printed part can combine 20 components into a single part and improve performance.

A key in realizing the advantages of 3D printing is ensuring the technology is considered at the start of the innovation process, with R&D teams working with advanced manufacturing engineers and in collaboration with customers, noted GE in a company press release. At the new center, teams will design, test, and produce 3D-printed parts for GE Healthcare products and prepare for final transfer to manufacturing.

“We are exploring opportunities where additive can bring cost savings and technical improvements to our supply chain and products,” explained Andreas Marcstrom, manager of Additive Engineering at GE Healthcare’s Uppsala site, in the press release. “Simply printing a part doesn’t really deliver that much improvement to a product or process. You have to rethink the entire design—to do this, you need your R&D teams and your additive manufacturing engineers working from the start of the development process—our center in Uppsala ensures that critical step.”

GE is working with the biotechnology company Amgen to test the performance of a chromatography column. The 3D-printed column has been custom-designed and is now being tested to see if it can be used in Amgen’s research to help develop improved processes for the purification stage of biopharmaceutical production. 

The GE Healthcare Advanced Manufacturing Engineering team has also developed and programmed multiple cobots which are now installed across GE Healthcare factories globally and are improving efficiency in production lines. Many are part of GE Healthcare’s development of Brilliant Factories— plants that combine continuous improvement and digital to operate more efficiently and with higher quality.

The center in Uppsala joins GE Healthcare’s other advanced manufacturing and engineering center which is based in Milwaukee, WI, in the United States. The teams in Uppsala will collaborate with those at the Milwaukee center, sharing knowledge and working on new design ideas.

Source: GE Healthcare

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