Reliable and accurate industrial 3D printing challenges injection moulding processes

elix Printers has launched the Pro 3, L and XL platforms for industrial production applications to meet the changing needs of the industry.

The shift of the manufacturing workflow to incorporate additive manufacturing in many industrial sectors has led 3D printingmanufacturer, Felix Printers, to develop products and features to serve the changing needs of industry, paying careful attention to detail and listening to customers. The Pro 3, L and XL platforms for industrial production applications were launched end 2018. According to Felix Printers, Pro 3 integrates seamlessly into industrial workflows, be it in the office, workshop, laboratory or factory environment. The 3D printer produces optimised print results repeatably. The L and XL platforms are for greatly increased build volumes of up to 144 litres. Pro L is said to be able to build parts of up to 300 x 400 x 400 mm (11.8 x 15.75 x 15.75 in.), while Pro XL has a build chamber of 600 x 400 x 600 mm (23.62 x 15.75 x 23.62 in.), Felix explains.

With Pro 3, L, and XL AM platforms, OEM’s have a reliable, cost-effective, and easy-to-use production technology for short-to-medium volume applications.

According to the company, the larger systems incorporate highly engineered print chambers, which incorporate an enclosed warm zone and a cold zone, to ensure quality and reliability. The warm zone supports consistent temperature control during the build, which is particularly important when printing materials with a high shrinkage factor, such as ABS, carbon fiber or nylon. In contrast, the cool zone is where the electronics are housed, which prevent overheating and subsequent machine/build failure.

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Wärtsilä Marine testing potential of additive manufacturing

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When Wärtsilä Marine Solutions took the decision to utilize additive manufacturing to create a vital component for an inert gas system, initial production prototypes displayed an unexpected characteristic. In this new field, with new potential, DNV GL’s established expertise was on hand to help. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has the potential to transform the maritime equipment supply chain. With the adoption of technology enabling printing in metal, vital spare parts and system components can now be printed on demand in locations around the world, including on vessels themselves. The result is dramatically reduced lead times, costs, labour needs, stock requirements and environmental impact, as well as the complete disruption of traditional business models.

And that’s just the supply side. The impact on manufacturing capability is just as radical. Suddenly the constraints of traditional processes can be broken, with machines bringing previously impossible designs to life through the precise application of layer upon layer of metals. For the frontrunners in maritime manufacturing, such as Wärtsilä Moss AS, it represents a special kind of magic.

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Testing the potential of additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has the potential to transform the maritime equipment supply chain. With the adoption of technology enabling printing in metal, vital spare parts and system components can now be printed on demand in locations around the world, including on vessels themselves. The result is dramatically reduced lead times, costs, labour needs, stock requirements and environmental impact (with less logistics and less waste), as well as the complete disruption of traditional business models.

And that’s just the supply side. The impact on manufacturing capability is just as radical. Suddenly the constraints of traditional processes can be broken, with machines bringing previously impossible designs to life through the precise application of layer upon layer of metals. For the frontrunners in maritime manufacturing, such as Wärtsilä Moss AS (a division of Wärtsilä Marine Solutions), it represents a special kind of magic.

Unique potential

“We came up with a new design that could only be realized with AM fabrication,” he explains. “The geometry of the part, the complexity involved in producing it, makes it far too difficult and expensive to manufacture using traditional methods. It can only be brought to life with AM.”

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Supply chain expands to meet demand for 3D-printed space parts

It’s not clear whether the additive manufacturing supply chain will expand rapidly enough to meet growing demand for 3D-printed parts for spacecraft or launch vehicles.

When companies are starting out, it’s easy for them to turn to additive manufacturing service providers for a few parts, said Scott Killian, aerospace business development manager for EOS North America. “Once companies move into production, they’re going to have to figure out whether the supply chain can still meet their needs,” he added. “There’s a lot of ebb and flow right now on getting that supply chain to ramp up.”

Many space companies work directly with EOS, a German manufacturer of 3D printing machines, or print parts on EOS equipment operated by additive manufacturing service providers. The only rocket customer Killian can discuss is Launcher. The New York company developing a 3D-printed copper bi-metal engine has agreed to a joint marketing campaign with EOS.

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3D printing may also disrupt product liability laws

In their recently published paper, ‘What Shall we do with the Drunken Sailor? Product Safety in the Aftermath of 3D Printing,’ Klaus Heine and Shu Li discuss how a disruptive technology like 3D printing can also upset other more peripheral areas such as legal issues and product liability. Safety mechanisms must be in place to protect the public, and the authors question why there is not more concern over potentially ‘harmful 3D printed products,’ with an analysis of why ‘incumbent product liability law does not incentivize optimal deterrence.’

Focusing on the many novel 3D printing startups and business models associated with 3D printing as the ‘trigger,’ the authors point out how little informational content regarding ‘specific producers’ is provided.

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Kongsberg Maritime tests SLS to subsea extremes with 3DPRINTUK

A feature in the March 2016 company magazine for Kongsberg Gruppen – one of Norway’s oldest and largest companies – delves into the future of 3D printing within the multi- faceted technology manufacturer.

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The article focusses on the in- house 3D printing by the R&D team at Kongsberg Maritime. Using the now defunct 3D Systems Cube Pro, Kongsberg fit and form prototypes. In the article, Alf Pettersen, Technical Manager at Kongsberg Aerostructures reveals a reluctance to invest in a more industrial solution.

“3D printing has come a long way in terms of medical devices and prototypes, but mass production is still a problem. This is because of challenges relating to repetition and quality. It is not good enough in so many areas, particularly in the aviation industry, where there are extremely strict requirements governing quality and the qualification of methods.”

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3D Printing ushers in a new era with Industry 4.0

3D printing is a mode for construction that is continuing to break out and pervade through numerous industries. Forbes reported that in 2019 80 percent of enterprises claim 3D printing is allowing them to innovate faster, reducing costs for production and allowing for greater flexibility of their products’ design.

On the one hand, this developing technology permits the freedom to formulate complex geometric figures free from the restraint of machine or injection moulding. On the other, it is faced with limits in the form of small build chambers lofts and restricted resource compatibility.

3D printing is also raising concerns when considering how the reproduction of copyrighted and patented products impacts current intellectual property standards. As developing technologies grow in prominence on a global scale, properly contextualizing 3D printing and its centrality to production enterprises is integral for understanding the impact additive manufacturing will have on commercial industry and the autonomy of consumers.

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Is 3D printing really a clean technology?

Any new technology, however promising, must be assessed for its environmental sustainability. This applies to 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing (AM), which is being developed as an alternative manufacturing technology in many fields of production. Clean technology is defined in terms of the lifecycle, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, toxic materials, and the use of non-renewable resources.

At present most 3D printing is carried out on a small scale. However, it is expanding quickly as tools and materials become more affordable, process quality improves, and innovative techniques emerge.

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VELO3D: breaking barriers in metal AM with support-free 3D printing

After many years in stealth mode, California-based VELO3D emerged in August 2018 with the release of its end-to-end Sapphire metal 3D printer. The industry took notice. The system, based on the company’s Intelligent Fusion technology, gained significant attention for its promise of support-free 3D printing and production capabilities.

VELO3D interview

Since then, VELO3D has kept up momentum, showcasing applications for its metal AM system in various industries and working with influential players in the AM and aerospace industries, such as Stratasys Direct and Boom Supersonic.

We recently had an in depth conversation with VELO3D’s Chief Customer Officer Richard Nieset about the company’s unique 3D printing technology as well as how it aims to disrupt the metal AM and broader manufacturing markets with its capabilities. If there is one key thing to take away from the conversation, it is that VELO3D is delivering on its promises and is confident in its ability to transform and unlock AM applications, especially in the aerospace and industrial sectors.

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Reimagining the future of manufacturing

Not since the first Industrial Revolution has the manufacturing industry transformed more than it has in the last 20 years. New technologies including robotics, computer-driven manufacturing, and data analytics have helped companies increase supply chain efficiencies to keep up with demand, but what if a bigger manufacturing industry transformation was on the horizon? Take a moment and imagine manufacturing becoming fully digital, allowing us to produce and distribute custom products to meet demand in near real-time.

Fast Radius - Carbon lab

That’s the vision that’s being brought to reality by Chicago-based additive manufacturer Fast Radius.

I recently had the privilege of visiting their facility in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood and spoke with Fast Radius Chief Executive Officer Lou Rassey and Chief Operating Officer Pat McCusker, learning more about the company, its vision and strategy, and expansive list of clients. I found the scope of what Fast Radius does stretches far past the incremental improvements in efficiency the manufacturing industry expects.

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