Manufacturing High-Yield Investment Castings with Minimal-Energy

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OPEN 2021
Fairfield, Connecticut
Project Term:
07/01/2022 - 12/31/2024

Critical Need:

The global investment casting (IC) market size for aerospace, automotive, energy, oil and gas, and medical industries was estimated at USD 16.63 billion in 2019. IC technology is crucial in manufacturing superalloy components for high-efficiency industrial gas turbines (IGTs) with complex geometries, tight dimensional tolerances, and intricate cooling channels. Today’s IC process is highly energy intensive, and still uses energy-inefficient, 1970’s vintage Bridgman furnaces. Larger and more complex future IGT blades will be impossible without a step-change in investment casting technology. In addition, the relatively long lead time and high costs involved in fabricating hard tooling for core and wax dies makes the current process uneconomical for new product innovations and low-volume production.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

General Electric (GE) Gas Power will develop an innovative, super energy-efficient single-piece furnace for IC to produce future high-technology blades and vanes for IGTs. During the past 20 years IGT blades and vanes have grown larger with increasingly complex internal features. GE proposes an innovative furnace design coupled with additive ceramic mold technologies to make single crystal blades and vanes. This energy-efficient technology would reduce cycle time and realize improved yields through lithographic printing of the core and shell of the casting—eliminating the thermal expansion mismatch in traditional investment casting—without requiring the use of complex machined wax and core dies. The proposed IC process will increase yields to 90% for future large and complex blades, reduce lead times for complex turbine blade castings from greater than 1 year to less than three months, decrease energy consumption by 90%, reduce the facility footprint to less than 10% that of a standard Bridgman furnace, and reduce furnace capital costs by more than 80%.

Potential Impact:

GE’s proposed new investment casting capability is expected to produce the most technically advanced, large, and complex cooled cast blades and vanes for current and future IGTs.


The proposed program will help to remove high-risk technological barriers in developing IGT manufacturing technologies and provide dramatic benefits for the U.S. energy economy, human resource productivity, and scientific leadership.


This project will reinvent the IC process in a minimum energy framework by creating a truly modernized, more cost-effective digital foundry with 90% better energy efficiency.


The manufacturing agility made possible by industry-leading GE’s investment casting innovation will help advance the U.S into a near-future decarbonized power generation economy.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Peter de Bock
Project Contact:
Mr. Chris Hanslits
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

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