The 3Dreamers

Meet the generation of aviation design engineers who are thinking differently thanks to a disruptive technology and an amazing attitude.

Sep 2018

Additive technology radically changes the way we think about design, materials, processes and manufacturing; and GE is leading the way. For example, GE Additive’s machines can build a part, layer by layer, enabling geometric freedom and previously unheard-of design possibilities. These machines are being used in many sectors, including the aviation industry. Avio Aero, as part of the GE Aviation family since 2013, has been an early adaptor of the 3D metal printing processes since the last decade.

Yet in 2013, the Avio Aero Cameri plant - a 3D printing factory which resembles a blue and gray jewelry box made of steel and glass - was opened to home the production of additively manufactured parts for aircraft engines. Very soon another brand-new 3D printing factory will be opened in Southern Italy. GE Additive machines are present in both the factories.

Simply put, additive manufacturing machines are able to 3D print objects, such as metal engine parts, hand-drawn by a design engineer. With design possibilities now endless, engineers are starting to think differently and create new opportunities.

This is exactly what the Additive Design & Technologies team at Avio Aero does - studying and developing additive solutions for engine programs, such as the well-known GE9X (which has already flown) and GE Catalyst. In the latter, a total of 855 conventionally manufactured parts has been reduced to 12 additive parts.  

Lorenzo Fattorini is part of that team and an additive manufacturing design and process engineer. He joined the team in September 2017 and started working on the GE Catalyst engine program.  That experience has opened new doors to a new development program and today he is working on the Racer, a next-generation helicopter by Airbus Helicopters.

Lorenzo was interviewed for GE Additive “Behind the Layers” and shared many interesting views on his new job and his motivations.  

Tell me a little about your life before Additive… businesses, roles, locations?

“I’ve always been a GE employee. After six months as a reliability engineer in GE Oil & Gas, Florence, in 2015, I moved to Turin to join Avio Aero with the EEDP (Edison Engineering Development Program, ed.). I felt very lucky to join the program, and in those two years I worked as a gearbox service and design engineer for both GE Catalyst and other programs. Plus, I was one of the very first members of the Avio Aero Digital League, born in October 2016.”

When did you first get involved in Additive?  What attracted you to the industry?

“The very first experience with additive manufacturing was a course held in my university. I was incredibly fascinated by this completely new and disruptive technology. The unleashed ways of thinking and designing parts were the aspects that mostly attracted me. Optimization, simplification and freedom: key features of this technology that we all should apply in everything we do.”

"The unleashed ways of thinking and designing parts are the aspects that mostly attract me: optimization, simplification and freedom..."

What is the best advice you received during your career?

“I’ve been really lucky with all my managers. I had the chance to learn from each one of them, both technically and personally. It’s so difficult to choose a favorite one! But if I had to, I think that ‘Think out of the box, but bring concrete and reliable results’ is the most powerful one. Freedom and pragmatism, these are the key habits a successful engineer must have.”

What skill, talent, or super power do you wish you had and why? 

“Teleportation! Open discussions with colleagues are way more effective than tele-presence calls or similar. Discussion is much more productive, ideas flow simpler and being to share ideas in person is an incredible weapon of thinking and innovating. I enjoy face to face meetings in my everyday job: they are the most effective, positive and above all funny.”

What about your free time?

“I play sports and also spend time with my girlfriend Elena and my friends. I’ve been an amateur tennis player since I was 14 years old, but I like also futsal and volleyball. Nevertheless, I can’t miss visiting Elena in Milan, or going for dinner or a walk with my friends in Turin (it’s better if there’s something to eat).”

Why meatballs are your favorite food?

“They remind me of the Saturday’s lunch at my grandma’s house with my whole family. Such a special time for me, together with all the ones I love the most, lots of laughs and joy. Plus, meatballs were one my grandma’s specials: amazing, delicious! Nobody ever after made them like hers. Anyway, I love almost every food, and cakes on the top. Food-wise, there are only two things I avoid: onion and garlic!”