Additive manufacturing has both potential and challenges

At this year’s International Symposium for Additive Manufacturing, around forty presentations covered the latest research results and industrial developments, as well as the challenges additive manufacturing (also called 3D printing) needs to overcome before it becomes firmly established in industry.  For example, Stefanie Brickwede, the Head of Additive Manufacturing at Deutsche Bahn, presented innovative approaches to additive manufacturing for mobility, especially rail traffic, in her lecture, “We Print to Drive: Mobility goes Additive”. According to Ms. Brickwede, the use of additive processes will result in high savings in the multi-digit million range in warehousing and spare parts procurement.  She underlined that additive manufacturing is of the upmost importance for Deutsche Bahn, especially in the management of spare parts for older trains.

Additive Manufacturing Symposium

“Tackling the materials and processing challenges”. Under this motto, 300 international experts from research and industry met at the 3rd International Symposium Additive Manufacturing in Dresden, Germany. At this year’s event, around forty presentations covered the latest research results and industrial developments, as well as the challenges additive manufacturing needs to overcome before it becomes firmly established in industrial production and for supply chain applications.

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Fast Radius’ CEO Lou Rassey on embracing industrial manufacturing

Now that 3D printing is moving towards industrial-grade production levels, many companies find themselves excited about the possibilities but not sure how to fully make it part of their operating model. This has created a gap where companies are slow to adopt additive manufacturing. Fast Radius is looking to bridge this gap.

Lou Rassey, CEO of Fast Radius

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Fast Radius, an advanced digital manufacturing company, is empowering industries to embrace additive. According to Lou Rassey, CEO of Fast Radius, the company offers “technology-agnostic solutions”, including additive manufacturing, and end-to-end processes for the design and manufacture of industrial-grade products. Customers come from sectors including aerospace, automotive, and medical.

The company is driven by a singular mission to “Make new things possible” for today’s manufacturers – whether that’s unlocking new business opportunities through additive manufacturing or making formerly “unmakeable” products. To achieve its mission, Fast Radius built a proprietary model that combines digital manufacturing with advanced physical technologies. This model led Fast Radius to be recently selected by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and McKinsey & CompanyInitiative on Shaping the Future of Production as a Fourth Industrial Revolution “Lighthouse”.

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Many companies stuck in planning phase of supply chain digitization

Man using tablet with logistics hub in background and graphics overlaid representing supply chain concepts

Even companies with the best-laid plans for supply chain digitization often struggle to achieve their goals, and recent Capgemini research provides some insight into the various factors holding some businesses back. The study, which suggests that many businesses remain stuck in the planning phase of digital transformation, offers several useful takeaways.

Released in December, “The Digital Supply Chain’s Missing Link: Focus”report surveyed more than 1,000 supply chain executives in the consumer products, manufacturing, and retail fields.

Key Survey Takeaways

The opportunity for cost savings was the primary motivator for the executives interviewed, with 77% saying that this impacted their decision in aiming to digitally transform the supply chain. Increasing revenues (56%) and supporting new business models (53%) were also cited.

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U.S. Army will leverage latest 3D printing technologies

According to estimates provided by the Pentagon, 3D printing capabilities will be increasingly integrating into the U.S. Army, reported by Devon L. Suits, Army News Service earlier this month.

As 3D printing increases both in the field and at depots, the Army’s Center of Excellence for Additive and Advanced Manufacturing is slated to reach initial operating capability this year at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.

Lt. Gen. Aundre Piggee, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, G-4, outlined the Army’s current 3D printing capabilities at the 2019 Military Additive Manufacturing Summit and Technology Showcase Feb. 6, in Tampa, Florida.

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As the global market outlook grows darker, manufacturing embraces tech solutions

U.S. Bank’s latest quarterly Freight Payment Index for fourth quarter describes a positive economic environment for the U.S to end 2018 but it also points to one of a possible slow down as we progress into 2019. The U.S. Bank National Shipment and Spend Indices both increased from the third to fourth quarters, with the Spend Index increasing 7.2% to a record high. Meanwhile, the National Shipment Index rose 1.7% from the third quarter.

Indeed, despite the positive end to 2018 and midway into the first quarter of 2019, the year’s outlook is even murkier than in December when the U.S. Bank noted concern for a possible slow down this year. So many unknowns on the economic stage as one wonders the effects of additional tariffs that are expected to increase in March, the lack of UK government guidance as Brexit looms with just a month to go for the final break, China’s economic downturn and a growing concern of a global recession.

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Why the digital factory of the future will be driven by the value network

An open-access, end-to-end digital thread is bringing mass customization to mass production.

Fig. 1

The world of making is changing, and businesses are digitally transforming from mass production to mass customization as consumers demand individualized, emotional experiences. New technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are starting to significantly impact how products or experiences are designed and manufactured. Meanwhile, social apps, Big Data, and the Cloud are creating opportunities to interact with and understand the consumer in totally new ways. So how do we bring these new data streams and technologies together to produce meaningful business insights? 

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3D printing technology enhancing logistics for Army

A Soldier holds a cap used to protect the fire extinguishing system housed in the wheel wells of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Without the cap, MRAPs are deemed non-mission-capable. Soldiers in Korea saved 1,472 operational days for their MRAPs by 3-D printing the caps for about $2.50 each.
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This photo shows a 3D printer producing six-inch cap, used to protect the fire extinguishing system housed the wheel wells of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Soldiers in Korea identified a fire-suppression cap degradation issue and turned to 3D printing technology for help. The team requested engineering support from the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.
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FORT MEADE, Md. — As 3D printing increases both in the field and at depots, the Army’s Center of Excellence for Additive and Advanced Manufacturing is slated to reach initial operating capability this year at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.

Lt. Gen. Aundre Piggee, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, G-4, outlined the Army’s current 3D printing capabilities at the 2019 Military Additive Manufacturing Summit and Technology Showcase Feb. 6, in Tampa, Florida. 

At the summit, defense, academia, and industry officials were privy to the latest additive manufacturing technologies, event officials said. The Army will leverage these improved 3D printing capabilities to bolster equipment readiness and reduce logistics burdens, Piggee said.

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How 3D printing is reshaping global production

As dark clouds gather over the global economy, manufacturers find themselves in the crosshairs

Long supply chains and a dependence on frictionless trade leaves manufacturers at risk to rising protectionism and slowing global growth. But a surprising form of technological defence could be available to them in 3D printing. Here are five key ways in which the tech could upend the economics of traditional manufacturing, while spurring innovation and cutting pollution.

  1. 3D printing offering economies of scale

Perhaps the biggest benefit of 3D printing could be its potential to cut costs, says Galina Spasova, senior research analyst at IDC. 3D printers reduce the number of steps required to assemble a finished part or product, speeding up the manufacturing process for some products, she says.

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NASA installs Tether Refabricator aboard ISS for in-space 3D printing

The Refabricator system by the US-based aerospace company Tethers Unlimited Inc. (TUI) has been installed on the International Space Station (ISS). The integrated 3D printer and plastic recycler was launched into space in November last year.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain installs the Refabricator aboard the ISS. Image via NASA/Tethers Unlimited.

The CEO of TUI Rob Hoyt said that he was “incredibly proud and thankful for the hard work put in by our team, the astronauts, and the NASA In Space Manufacturing Team to get the Refabricator all the way to installation aboard the space station.”

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The journey to utilising 3D printing across the manufacturing space

Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention and that is certainly the case with Kora.

Founder Steve Burrows was already enjoying considerable success with his first and long-term venture, Impex Parts Limited, a company that has been supplying OEM and Aftermarket parts to the motor trade for over 20 years. Changes to EU Motor Vehicle Block Exemption had seen demand for “Original Equipment Parts” increase rapidly and Impex was regularly receiving requests for parts that it was finding difficult to source externally.

Kora SC

The company decided to explore 3D printing as a solution and, finding it worked well, went on to own several commercially available 3D printing machines. Initial success soon turned to disappointment, however, when these 3D printing machines began regularly breaking down, requiring Impex engineers to spend a considerable amount of time fixing and maintaining them. Confident in both the skills of his engineers and the technology but frustrated that a better alternative did not seem to exist, Steve decided to develop his own 3D printer machine and Kora was born.

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