Additive manufacturing aligns with the needs of the automotive industry, driving advances in vehicle design. Serial production is a reality today in additive manufacturing (or 3-D printing) as the technologies under this umbrella have advanced to a point where end-use parts can be made of both metal and plastic materials, ready to be put to use in real-world environments. The automotive industry has been a major adopter, with automotive OEMs among the first to install 3-D printers — some 30 years ago, in fact, Ford purchased the third 3-D printer ever made.
A 2014 Deloitte study pointed to two major areas of influence for 3-D printing in automotive applications: as a source of product innovation and as a driver of supply chain transformation. Over the past nearly half-decade, these predictions have shown to be spot-on as new vehicle models come out faster and sleeker, with digital supply chains reshaping logistics.
Some of the best-known benefits of additive manufacturing align precisely with what automotive OEMs are looking to deliver: faster development cycles, part consolidation, lightweighting, new and custom geometries.
Car radars, 5G communication systems and satellite-based atmospheric sensors could all be improved as a result of a UK project to develop 3D printed terahertz and microwave circuits.
Although 3D printing is widely used in many areas of manufacturing, its use in microwave and terahertz circuits has so far been limited by the level of precision required to build devices at such a small scale.
However, the accuracy of 3D printers has significantly improved in recent years, with some now able to print down to a resolution of five microns or less, according to Michael Lancaster at Birmingham University, who is leading the EPSRC-funded project.
Manual tests for safe drinking water can be slow and error-prone. A team of academics is trying to change that
Like many people, Alexander Patto was keen to move away from academia after his PhD. He wanted a job that would have a tangible impact on the world, so when an opportunity came up to investigate water testing in the developing world, he jumped at the chance. Together with a team of academics from the University of Cambridge, Patto, a biologist, worked on a simple way of testing bacterial contamination in drinking water.
“The current systems are very slow and complex,” says Patto. To get a robust result “there is a lot of manual sampling”, which can also lead to “a lot of human error”, he says. “What we’re trying to do is make it very, very simple, so that anybody can do a test, regardless of their skillset [and the] resources available, and still get a result that is scientifically robust.”
The manufacturing industry has always been directly impacted by the technological advancements of its time. From the advent of coal and steam as new sources of energy, the cotton gin and its impact on cloth manufacturers, and the assembly line for Ford, each has altered and benefitted the industry. As we enter Industry 4.0, a new batch of technology is shaping how, and how fast, we make goods. 3D printing is one such technology that is providing tangible benefits to those who implement it.
Desktop 3D printing, where users can design and print right at their desks or on the factory floor, has seen tremendous growth in the past several years, moving from strictly prototyping to actual production. The technology has opened huge possibilities for manufacturers, including quicker time to market, a reduction in costs, and an overall improvement in factory productivity
A special interest group of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) has posted a set of guidelines, suggesting standard approaches for 3D printing in healthcare.
Recognizing the need for evidence-based recommendations in the sector, these guidelines have been developed over a period of two years, in review of over 500 recent papers published on the topic.
As the abstracts states, “The recommendations provide guidance for approaches and tools in medical 3D printing, from image acquisition, segmentation of the desired anatomy intended for 3D printing, creation of a 3D printable model, and post-processing of 3D printed anatomic models for patient care.”
3D printing technology applications come alive in applications ranging from developing packaging machinery to producing personalized medical devices to printing custom medications in a patient’s home.
The FDA acknowledges that “advances in material science, digital health, 3D printing, as well as other technologies continue to drive an unparalleled period of invention in medical devices.”
The perspective comes from a Nov. 26, 2018 statement by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Jeff Shuren, Director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, outlining transformative new steps to modernize FDA’s 510(k) program to advance the review of the safety and effectiveness of medical devices.
This collection of reports, books, and new items will get you up to speed on the 3D industry’s latest developments.
With so many developments in the additive manufacturing world to follow, I decided to use this article to compile some representative news items and reports. Taken together, they’ll provide you with greater insight into the most noteworthy 3D printing trends. The following features:
- The latest edition of the 3D Hubs Online Manufacturing Trends report
- Global Markets Insights’ report on 3D printing in the automotive industry
- The importance of partnerships
- New programs to stimulate 3D printing growth
Trade shows and conferences are time- and energy-intensive expeditions often requiring significant travel and expense. The best events prove their worth in bringing together the people who make an industry and the decision-makers who drive it — and in additive manufacturing, Germany is proving to be a destination of note each November.
Frankfurt drew 26,919 visitors and 632 exhibitors to the 2018 edition of formnext last week, perhaps the largest event on the calendar in additive manufacturing. With 49% international attendees and exhibitors representing 32 countries, formnext serves not only to provide some of the finest networking opportunities in this young industry but to act as a bellwether of some of the strongest trends in additive technologies. At this year’s edition — 25% larger than in 2017 but with 37,231 square meters of floor space already dwarfed by the 58,000 square meters announced for 2019 — formnext showcased an important trend in and of itself: additive manufacturing is big business.
Russian researchers have used machine learning to make metal 3D printing more efficient.
3D printers require fine tuning of positioning and control algorithms using mathematical models to reach optimal performance. This is a lengthy and arduous process and it could take weeks to set printing parameters. Even then, the possibility of printing error is always present.
To overcome such problems scientists at the Laboratory of Lightweight Materials and Structures of Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) have developed a neural network for a metal 3D printer.
This is the second of a two-part conversation with Gary Gereffi, director of the Global Value Chain Center at Duke University, on the future of global supply chains. In the first piece, we looked at the impact that protectionism is having on global value chains. Today, we focus on the impact of technology and the changing U.S.-China relationship.
BRINK: You’ve talked about how we should be thinking of value chains and supply chains in regional rather than global terms. Why?
Gary Gereffi: In complex industries, no single country has the capabilities to produce all of the parts of a product. If you take something like an automobile that has about 20,000 parts, the most efficient industries are actually set up on a regional basis. For example, the U.S. automobile industry is really a North American industry, where U.S. companies are very tightly intertwined with suppliers in Mexico, Canada and even Central America to form a regional supply chain that can produce a very large share of the components needed.