The value of additive manufacturing: future opportunities

Published in September 2017, in conjunction with Imperial College London’s Additive Manufacturing Network, this paper presents an overview of the potential economic, technical and environmental benefits of additive manufacturing (AM) – 3D printing – as well as the current hurdles across the AM process chain that need to be overcome to realise a more-effective and more-profitable industry. For example, improved design software, faster printing technology, increased automation and better industry standards are required.

Imperial College London is equipped to play a leading role in the UK’s ever-growing AM landscape. The current portfolio of AM-based research is varied and encompasses problems across the entire design-to-end-use-product chain. Research projects include, for instance, the development of new design methodologies for optimised multimaterial AM parts, novel metal-based AM printing techniques, investigations of fundamental AM material properties and 3D printing of next-generation biomaterials for medical applications.

AM research at Imperial can be further extended by capitalising on the College’s world-class scientific and engineering expertise and factilities, its culture of collaboration and history of effective research translation. There are several ways for external partners interested in the AM field to engage with Imperial academics: focused workshops, bespoke consultancy services, funding for specific research projects and facilities, or student placements

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3D-printed objects connect to internet without any electronics

Researchers at the University of Washington have succeeded in connecting 3D-printed plastic objects to the internet without the addition of electronic components.

Typically, devices require electronic components to send, interpret and receive signals via Wi-Fi. Given this, wirelessly connecting 3D-printed devices without the addition of electronic components had never been achieved.

“Our goal was to create something that just comes out of your 3D printer at home and can send useful information to other devices,” said Vikram Iyer, a graduate student at the University of Washington.

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What was hot in Supply Chain Technology in 2017?

When it comes to new technology, development usually proceeds incrementally. But progress continues to be made on many fronts. Here is a look at some critical new technologies, and how the ARC Advisory Group assesses their maturity.

3D Printing of Spare Parts

The opportunity to use 3D printing – more accurately labeled “additive manufacturing” – to print spare parts is widely recognized.  In ARC’s conversations with industry insiders, we have come across many companies that have beta projects and are printing a small number of parts, but no company that is doing this at scale. There are a number of challenges associated with scaling additive manufacturing in the supply chain. However, the challenges are not insurmountable. New cloud-based solutions are very promising.

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How will 3D printing alter the movement of freight?

Turning bits into atoms in real-time? It’s as profound as the idea of instantly sharing thoughts across the world would have been to a person just a few decades ago. So how close are we to the dreams of the 21st century, and what does 3D printing have to do with it?

Mercedes-Benz Trucks is printing 3D parts for some of its European distributors. 3D printing could alter supply chains as businesses would not need to ship inventory or components long distances.

The story begins with manufacturing. Layer-by-layer, additive manufacturing, colloquially still called 3D printing, is a disruptive form of manufacturing that is transforming—in the short term—the spare parts supply chain. Soon enough it will be much more. A San Francisco startup is printing houses—with better construction and for less money per square meter than standard construction today. And if you think it’s all just plastic, think again. They’re printing cars. They’ve been printing jet engines since early 2015.

Around the globe, people are using 3D printing to create all manner of things, even 3D printing food. Instead of carrying slow moving parts across a network of warehouses, these warehouses will just manufacture the parts as needed. 3D printing offers many advantages over traditional manufacturing, like the ability to print hard-to-find machine parts on demand, or print shapes that aren’t found in traditional manufacturing processes.

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3D-Printing Tips: What to do with file formats

3D-Printing Tips: What to Do with File FormatsMultiple file-format choices exist, but you might want to consider taking additional steps when saving your parts for 3D printing.

One can choose from a number of file formats for 3D printing, and in general they all work fine. However, understanding what mesh resolution is needed for each part can affect the size of the file, which may create lag when transferring data. In addition, not everything transfers smoothly from a CAD drawing to the printer. This article will look at file resolution, clearance between moving parts, geometric interferences, and more things to keep in mind when moving your CAD drawing to a 3D printer.

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Planning to buy a 3D printer? These are 7 details you should pay attention to

From 3dprint.com:

I remember when I was planning my first 3D printer purchase. These were endless hours of browsing phrases like “3D printer choice criteria” or “the most important 3D printer details/parts”.Almost every article’s main point was “it depends on what do you want your 3D printer to be used for”.And this is obviously true. Of course, I know that this is not what you are looking for, so in this article I would like to introduce you to a list of the seven most-important features of 3D printers which you need to look at before buying a new one of your own.

  1. Build volume

This is usually the first parameter given by 3D printer manufacturers. It determines the maximum size your printed element can be. It involves three numbers. The first two are the length and width of your printing, and the third is height. So, at the beginning you should think about the biggest thing that you might want to 3D print with your device, and reject all the 3D printers whose build volume is too small. You should also pay attention to the units used. Some manufacturers use inches, others use millimetres or inches, so be careful.

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Renishaw and Identify3D offer industrial answer to IP protection

OEM Renishaw has collaborated with software company Identify3D to produce an end-to-end, secure digital manufacturing process.

The collaboration between Renishaw and Identify3D will deliver secure manufacturing to supply chains in the aerospace, automotive, defence and medical sectors, as these industries make the leap to 3D printing.

Denial, compromise, sabotage, disaster

The issue of protecting intellectual property (IP) has faced almost all industries that use 3D printing, from design to manufacturing. It has formed the basis of questions that 3D Printing Industry has put to experts across the field, with many agreeing that additive manufacturing does not readily fit into existing IP protection structures.

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Government and 3D Printing: A new line of innovation to protect

3D printer printingFor the last 20 years, manufacturers have used 3D printing to build prototypes, but it was only recently that this industrial technology entered the mainstream.  The 3D printing of products can enable faster time-to-market, save money, mitigate risk and allow manufacturers to customize a component to suit customer needs. 3D printing can produce individual, specifically tailored parts on demand. Boeing printed an entire plane cabin in 2013 and Ford can manufacture vehicle parts in four days that would have taken four months using traditional methods.

After realizing the boost 3D printing could deliver to manufacturing, the U.S. government increased funding for institutions researching AM technologies. In 2012 the federally funded National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) was launched — a $30 million pilot institute aimed at boosting 3D printing’s use in manufacturing. Also referred to as America Makes, the institute works with brilliant minds from industry, academia, and government. It is expected that these collaborations will help reduce the period of development between a lab’s proof-of-concept and commercial product. With the U.S. government investing more in AM and 3D printing techniques, governmental organizations are now starting to integrate the technology into their own processes.

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Emirates VP: Everything in the cabin should be 3D printed

Emirates has for the first time used cutting-edge 3D printing technology to manufacture components for its aircraft cabins.

The airline used Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), a new 3D printing technique to produce video monitor shrouds.

Emirates has worked with 3D Systems, a US based 3D printing equipment and material manufacturer and services provider, and with UUDS, a European aviation Engineering and Certification Office and Services Provider based in France, to successfully print the first batch of 3D printed video monitor shrouds using 3D Systems’ Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology platform.

The airline has also 3D printed, received certification for and installed aircraft cabin air vent grills for on-board trials in its first class cabins.

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3D bio-printing: A medical revolution?

As medicine advances, technology is playing an ever-increasing role. The development of CT and MRI scanners to see inside patients, pacemakers to keep hearts beating, and prosthetic limbs that interact with the nervous system, have proved how valuable technology can be for our health. Has technology got our backs again, this time with an organ transplant crisis?

There is a severe need for new organs for transplantation around the world. In the last decade, nearly 49,000 people have had to wait for a life-saving organ transplant, in the UK alone. Of those, over 6,000 people have died whilst waiting – all possibly preventable if organs had been available. The issue is, with an ageing population and a safer environment, there are fewer organs available for transplant, and more organ failures requiring a transplant. The vast majority of the demand is for kidneys, with over 5,400 on the current UK waiting list.

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