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Machine Uses Focused Electrons to Slice Aerospace-Grade Titanium in Minutes

Images by GE Global Research

Cutting large lumps of aerospace-grade metals can be hard work. So GE has developed a tool called Blue Arc which uses a high-speed beam of electrons to cut through titanium alloy 15 times faster than other techniques.


The problem with working with exotic new metals is that they’re tougher than the metals that can be used to cut them. High-pressure water and laser cutters can help, but they generate a lot of heat—which can deform the material that’s being cut.

Instead, Blue Arc focuses electrons to erode and remove metal without generating as much heat. The tool can cut through a slab of aerospace-grade titanium alloy in three minutes, whereas the conventional alternative approaches take 45 minutes.


It’s already being used by GE to cut Inconel and titanium jet engine parts. Probably best to avoid getting your hand in its way.

Illustration for article titled Machine Uses Focused Electrons to Slice Aerospace-Grade Titanium in Minutes


Contributing Editor at Gizmodo. An ex-engineer writing about science and technology.

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Cutting large chunks of any metal can be hard work.

I’m waiting for people outside of aviation/aerospace to realize that “aerospace grade”(or “aviation grade”) isn’t really a thing. “Aviation grade” aluminum on my truck is simply 6061-T6. Nothing special. The aviation industry used many different grades of Titanium that are also used in many other industries.

Companies use “aerospace grade” in marketing when they want people to spend more on something or be very impressed with how fancy it is.