The cautionary point of view: 3D printing not yet ready to disrupt plastic injection molding

3D printing needs to mature before it is considered an alternative to injection molding for large-volume production jobs

Product developers and engineers who design and manufacture plastic parts now have a powerful new weapon in their arsenal: 3D printing. This disruptive technology has great promise for rapid prototyping and low-volume manufacturing, but is it ready to replace high-volume plastic injection molding using dedicated metal tools and dies?

The short answer: 3D printing is better used as a complement to plastic injection molding rather than as competition, though that may change. Here’s where we currently stand and what the future may hold.

Read more

 

Tagged

3D Printing Today: Democratization of technology and disruptive innovation converge

Democratization of 3D printing and disruptive innovation are among some of the slightly vague, but recognizable, terms that those who follow the 3D printing / additive manufacturing (AM) industry have probably encountered. So, what is the practical translation of these concepts to individuals and companies incorporating 3D printing in their business planning?

Democratization of technology generally refers to the process by which access to technology rapidly and readily becomes accessible to more people (e.g., the internet). At the height of 3D printing hype in 2014, opportunities for selling low-cost FFF 3D printers to individual consumers was presented under this banner. The key learning that shortly followed was that a product/technology “push” without an appropriate market “pull” (benefit to the targeted market) is a challenging (and costly) proposition.

Read more

Tagged

Dutch trauma center 3D prints bone fracture models for better treatment

A trauma center in the Netherlands is using 3D printing technologies to improve the treatment of trauma patients, especially those who are admitted with bone fractures. The technology is being explored at the Elisabeth-TweeSteden Ziekenhuis (ETZ) trauma center by a team of trauma surgeons and researchers.

At the ETZ, one of 11 trauma centers in the Netherlands, PhD candidate Lars Brouwers is testing the effectiveness of 3D printing for trauma treatment. He has been tasked with the job of transforming medical scans of bone fractures into patient-specific 3D printed models. The 3D printed bones are then being used as pre-surgical aids for doctors and as explanatory models for patients.

Brouwers, along with ETZ trauma surgeons Mike Bemelman, MD and Koen Lansink, MD, believe that physical 3D printed models can offer surgeons a better and clearer understanding of a patient’s injury than 3D models visualized on a 2D screen.

Read more

Tagged ,

Getting ahead of the 3D game

Matt Minio, managing director of Objective 3D shares his thoughts on the advancements and popularity of metal 3D printing in the manufacturing space.

metal-copyAccording to Wohler Associate analysts, 3D printing has grown into a multi-billion industry that has been picking up the pace since getting onto the scene more than 15 years ago and boasts a footprint across multiple industries. In 2016, the “additive manufacturing” industry, as it is known, grew by 17.4 per cent in worldwide revenues. By 2020, it is estimated that 6.7 million 3D printers will ship.

Companies like Stratasys are experimenting with ways to scale up 3D printing production to make it more competitive with conventional manufacturing methods in terms of the return of investment (ROI) it brings. With automation, the production volume capabilities of these printers increase, and the total cost of production is cut. The result is a more cost-effective product that is created more quickly with minimal manual intervention.

Read more

Tagged

Porsche and Bugatti turn to 3D printing for complex or rare parts

Additive manufacturing is starting to gain acceptance among automakers

The last time we looked at 3D printing in the automotive world, it was still a technique limited to startups like Divergent 3D or Local Motors. But in the last few months, there’s been growing evidence that the big OEMs are waking up to the advantages of additive manufacturing. In recent weeks, we’ve seen Bugatti reveal that it has been 3D printing brake calipers out of titanium, followed soon after by news that Porsche has been using the technique to recreate out-of-stock parts for its classic cars.

Bugatti’s bespoke brakes

In Bugatti’s case, the brand turned to 3D printing to see if it could cut some weight from the front brake calipers on the Chiron hypercar. For the production Chiron, the eight-piston calipers are made from forged aluminum alloy, resulting in a component that weighs 10.8lbs (4.9kg). By comparison, the printed version weighs just 6.4lbs (2.9kg) but manages to have a higher tensile strength. Bugatti turned to Laser Zentrum Nord in Hamburg, Germany for the project.

Read more

Tagged

Segmenting your spare parts supply chain for 3D printing

Understanding how to identify where to use 3D printing in a supply chain is one of the first key questions to address.


From warehouse robots (very real) to equipment that you control with your mind (in the labs), new technologies appear so regularly that it can be hard to separate real from science fiction. But in the spare parts business, 3D printing has become “here and now”. Beyond cars and machine tools, 3D printers are now making spare parts to order for the US Marine Corps, container ships, and beverage filling plants. PwC’s recent survey of German manufacturers said that 85 percent of the spare parts providers assert that 3D printing will play a dominant role in their business.

Long Tail spare parts Graphic MTO 3D Printing versus MTS.jpgAs you approach this new technology, one question to consider is how to segment your inventory portfolio to determine which spare parts in your supply chain are best suited for 3D printing versus other approaches.  In addition to supply-side considerations such as manufacturability, this requires analyzing cost-to-serve across alternative distribution approaches and demand-side characteristics like order-lines per year and demand volatility.  Then the spares portfolio can be segmented into three categories.

Read more

Tagged

3D printed electric cars to take over in 2019

Shanghai’s 3D printing Cultural Museum showcased a display of world’s first 3D printing electric vehicle named LSEV. The tech-genius is expected to be made available in the markets by April 2019.

The startup electric vehicle company is exhibiting its first 3D-printed LSEV at Shanghai’s China 3D printing Cultural Museum before its show at the Auto China 2018 in Beijing. Enthusiasts will have to wait another year.

Read more

Tagged

Additive manufacturing and combustible dust hazards in 3D Printing

3D printing processes generate combustible dust, creating a set of risks EHS professionals should take into account.

3d printing

Over the last few years we have witnessed the expansion of additive manufacturing using 3D printers from utilization as a prototyping tool to increasing implementation on the plant floor. The rapid evolution of this technology and its applications has created new challenges for process safety. These challenges involve understanding powder combustibility properties and how best to implement reliable inverting measures to prevent fires and explosions during powder processing and handling.

An EHS professional or employee in charge of reviewing and approving use of a 3D printer in their facility should be aware of the hazards associated when it comes to combustible dust.

Read more

Tagged

An additive evolution

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is a growing market and one that is shifting away from traditional prototyping and into the world of direct manufacturing, as a range of industries begin to recognise its potential.

Andreas Saar, VP manufacturing engineering solutions and additive manufacturing programme lead at Siemens PLM Software, said: ‘Every industry can benefit from additive manufacturing. It is a disruptive technology that transforms every aspect of the design, simulation and the manufacturing of products. The complexity of additive manufacturing, not just over the entire lifecycle of a product but across the range of industries, is a challenge.’

A number of economic barriers must also be overcome, as Dr Jean Sreng, marketing business development manager for additive manufacturing at the ESI Group, explained: ‘Additive manufacturing is, today, a process which is cost effective at low volume and high complexity geometries. Even though we are all working to decrease this cost effectiveness ratio to achieve high volumes, more traditional manufacturing techniques such as stamping, welding, casting, will always have a complementary effectiveness with additive manufacturing.’

Read more

Tagged , , ,

Help share the future of Additive Manufacture in the UK

Wall of members at Coventry's MTC, including Rolls-Royce, Airbus, EOS and Autodesk. Photo by Beau JacksonAt the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, Martin Dury, Learning Design Manager, and his team are working to address the manufacturing skills gap, encouraging UK businesses to be agile and adopt new technologies. Currently, Dury is mapping a number of Additive Manufacturing Competency Frameworks for all roles in AM.

The frameworks are intended to define the skills, knowledge and behaviour required for newly developed AM roles and identify appropriate training programs for every step of the process, from requirement capture, design, material selection and manufacture through to post-processing, inspection and verification.

To help form a comprehensive outline of the roles and skills needed in additive manufacturing in the UK, the MTC is seeking input and contributions from industry experts.

Read more

Tagged