GE Aviation has announced that it is investing more than $200m to set up factories adjacent to its existing plants in Huntsville, Alabama to mass produce silicon carbide (SiC) materials used for the manufacture of components ceramic matrix composites (CMC) for jet engines and gas turbines.

The construction of the two plants will begin mid-2016, and production will begin in 2018. When the factories are operational they are expected to employ up to 300 people.

“Establishing new GE plants in Alabama”,  said Sanjay Correa, VP CMC Program at GE Aviation – “is a very significant step in the development of the supply chain we need to produce CMC components in large quantities.”

Each plant will produce silicon carbide ceramic fiber. It will be the first such operation in the United States. Today, the only factory with large scale worldwide SiC production is NGS Advanced Fibers Japan, which is a affiliated with Nippon Carbon, GE and Safran of France.

The GE factory will use the SiC to produce CMC unidirectional tape required to manufacture components. Since 2013, GE Aviation invested more than $100m in a factory of 300,000 square feet in Auburn where the company is engaged in the production of jet engine components (super-alloy machined parts). Over the past year, the plant in Auburn saw the installation of additive production capacity, including more than a dozen laser melting machines. Fuel nozzles are the first components to be built using additive processes for the CFM LEAP. It marks the first time that a complex component will be produced using this additive technology.

Fabio Gigante

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