Powder to the People: This 3D Printing Incubator Is Liberating Engineers

Hailing from the Outer Banks, a long, sandy necklace of islands off North Carolina’s coast, Jimmie Beacham knows something about witnessing history. When his grandfather, John, was a small boy, he watched one of the Wright brothers’ first attempts at flight in nearby Kitty Hawk, a feat that ultimately ended up changing how we live.

Now Beacham himself is in the vanguard of a revolution, one that is changing how we design and make things. It’s called additive manufacturing, which includes technologies like 3D printing.

As chief engineer for advanced manufacturing at GE Healthcare, Beacham, 43, is in charge of a futuristic laboratory in Waukesha, Wisconsin. His team of a dozen engineers is helping 70 GE factories sprinkled around world explore 3D printing, augmented reality, robotics, big data and other software and technologies. But it’s their convergence that really gets him excited. “This is a whole new ballgame,” he says. “For example, we can use robots to print sensors on machine parts and then analyze the data they produce to make them work better.”

This article originally appeared on Autodesk’s Redshift, a site dedicated to inspiring designers, engineers, builders, and makers. Continue reading the article:

Photo Credit: GE Healthcare’s Stephen Abitz is holding a test sample used to develop the tungsten collimator. Image courtesy GE Reports.