How 3D Printing and Digital Technologies are Altering the Face of Aircraft

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March 27, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: March 27 on

You won’t find the Italian commune of Cameri in many tourist guides. Located on the flat and fertile plains that stretch seemingly forever between Italy’s industrial dynamos of Milan and Turin, tiny Cameri seems a little lost. Like in most Italian towns, a splendid church and bell tower stand in the center, but during a recent visit in early February, its narrow streets were quiet and its stores either empty or closed. The busiest place in town was a pizzeria filled with a dozen locals finishing their lunch. “This is not the prettiest town in Italy,” said the owner, pointing to the gray facades outside.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Ever since Avio Aero opened an additive manufacturing factory on the edge of town three years ago — the most advanced of its kind in Europe — a steady flow of engineers and executives have streamed into Cameri to witness the future of how we will make things. “This factory has helped us understand what the art of the possible is with additive manufacturing,” David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation, said during a recent visit. “This is the cutting edge.” GE Aviation acquired Avio Aero in 2013.