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GE opens ceramic matrix composites mass production plant for next generation jet engines

News International-French

15 Nov 2013

The 170,000-square-foot factory will be located in Asheville, North Carolina. The company plans to hire 340 people over the next five years and move all 290 workers currently employed by GE Aviation’s machining shop in Asheville to the CMC plant.

The existing workforce at GE Aviation's current machining operation in Asheville will gradually transition to the Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMC) components plant.

The introduction of CMC components into the hot section of GE jet engines represents a significant technology breakthrough for GE and the jet propulsion industry. CMCs are made of silicon carbide ceramic fibers and ceramic resin, manufactured through a highly sophisticated process and further enhanced with proprietary coatings. As part of its continued leadership and commitment to advanced manufacturing, GE plans to introduce more CMC components into future engine development programs.
GE scientists spent the last two decades developing the tough, light and heat-resistant materials. They weigh a third of advanced alloys but can perform at temperatures as high as 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit, where most alloys grow soft.

The specific CMC component to be built in the new Asheville facility is a high-pressure turbine shroud. More importantly, this CMC component will be on the best-selling LEAP jet engine, being developed by CFM International, a joint company of GE and Snecma (SAFRAN) of France and will mark the first time CMCs are used for a commercial application. The LEAP engine, which will enter airline service in 2016, will power the new Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737 MAX and COMAC (China) C919 aircraft. The partners have received orders for more than 5,200 LEAP engines valued at $68 billion.

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