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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11 myths about Additive Manufacturing, Part 1

AM is surrounded by much hype, but are you getting the whole story?

Five years ago, Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman gave us Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing,1 helping to both create and ride a wave of enthusiasm for 3D printing. This enthusiasm, combined with the infusion of U.S. government funding and the expiration of key patents, prompted many to buy a 3D printer for the kids and make stock investments in rising star companies.

Powder bed processes

Along with their book, Lipson and Kurman  gave us the 10 Principles of 3D Printing as a roadmap into the future to explain why 3D printing will disrupt manufacturing and product design. I bought and read the book and enjoyed it. I get that “no one wants to follow a small dream,” but as a process engineer with a background in advanced materials, digital design, and manufacturing, I knew it was not that easy.

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3D printing applied to MRO of F/A-18 Hornet by U.S. Marines

A pilot looks out of the canopy of his F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft. U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Ian C. Anderson

At the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, southern Japan, 3D printing is now in use to keep F/A-18 Hornet multirole fighters airborne.

MCAS Iwakuni engineers have devised two products that reduce the time it takes to repair the fighter jets, saving costs for the U.S. Department of Defense. The products help with the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of the fighter jets, covering all tasks carried out to ensure the airworthiness of an flight vehicle.

The 3D printed products include an engine ship kit, designed by the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 (MALS 12), and a plastic ring kit that helps the maintenance of the bearings on the F/A-18’s Gatling gun. 

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How emerging technologies can transform the supply chain

Most companies are still only at an early stage on their journey towards a true digital supply chain transformation. That’s partly due to history, because companies have traditionally sold products and services through linear value chains as well as an antiquated IT infrastructure making even relatively simple digital initiatives a big challenge.

However, as digital ecosystems consisting of market networks enable hybrid forms of cooperation and competition with shared data in the cloud, it is no longer an option to not be digital. One important challenge is identifying the right supply chain use cases that will provide a competitive advantage and can be addressed utilizing a digital-based solution. There are three key digital supply chain trends having significant positive impacts on clients: lights-out planning, blockchain and 3D printing.

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3D printing part of an ‘unparalleled period of invention’

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.”

Plastic grippers made via 3D printing. (Photo from igus.)

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.

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Reducing Time to Market with 3D printing farms and smart factories

Pedro Mier of Premo Group, Ignacio Artola Guardiola of Accenture, Ramón Paricio Hernández of SEAT, and Ramón Pastor, HP. Photo by Tia Vialva.As Barcelona Industry Week and IN(3D)USTRY: From Needs to Solutions Additive and Advanced Manufacturing Global Hub concludes, the future of 3D printing the path to industrialization shows promise.

With a focus on digitization and Industry 4.0, 3D Printing Industry sought to learn more on how such technologies work with additive manufacturing, by attending the IN(3D)USTRY talk “Printing Farms & Smart Factories.”

The following includes some of the insights made by Pedro Mier, Adviser and Member of the Board of Directors at Premo Group, Ignacio Artola Guardiola, Managing Director at Accenture, Ramón Paricio Hernández, Production Manager at SEAT, and Ramón Pastor, Vice President and General Manager of HP’s Large Format Printing.

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3D printing technology shakes up parts production for automakers, suppliers

Automakers and suppliers are on the cusp of revolutionary change through their growing use of 3D printing, a technology that can make custom parts on demand and has the potential to mass-produce parts.

Once the technology achieves critical mass, industry analysts say, 3D printing also could affect fixed operations at dealerships.

Many automakers now use 3D printing to make prototype parts for vehicle development, as well as tools and assembly aids for manufacturing operations. Several car companies are looking into making production parts with 3D printers in the next five years. Some automakers currently produce handfuls of small replacement parts, typically interior trim pieces.

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Cutting additive manufacturing production time

Stratasys announced that GKN Aerospace is improving production times and removing design constraints for multiple tooling applications since integrating additive manufacturing at its Filton manufacturing site in the UK.

Time cut from several weeks to a few hours using Stratasys Production 3D Printer: GKN Aerospace is producing complex tools that were uneconomical or impossible to make without additive manufacturing.

GKN Additive

GKN serves over 90 percent of the world’s aircraft and engine manufacturers with aerostructures, engine systems and technologies.
According to , the company decided to invest in the Stratasys F900 Production 3D Printer in a bid to cut lead times for production-line tools, and to create complex parts, impossible to make with traditional manufacturing methods.

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Siemens Mobility is 3D printing spare parts at first digital rail maintenance centre

“The ability to 3D print customised tools and spare parts whenever we need them, with no minimum quantity, has transformed our supply chain.”

Siemens Mobility GmbH, part of Siemens AG, has opened its first digital rail maintenance centre, eliminating the need for inventory of selected spare parts.

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The Siemens Mobility RRX Rail Service Center located in Dortmund-Eving, Germany, houses a Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production 3D printer which is being used produce replacement parts and tooling on-demand. Siemens Mobility has reduced the manufacturing time of select parts by up to 95%.

The RRX Rail Service Center is expecting around a hundred trains to enter the depot every month. Michael Kuczmik, Head of Additive Manufacturing, Siemens Mobility GmbH, Customer Service says 3D printing will play an integral role in optimising “spare parts for longer life cycles, at reduced cost and in shorter timeframes than ever before.”

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How will 3D printing affect the supply chain?

They may seem like odd bedfellows: UPS, a global logistics and delivery company and Fast Radius, a company pushing 3D printing, which stands to greatly reduce the number of shipments required by allowing businesses to manufacture products locally on their own.

But through its UPS Ventures arm, the company has taken a minority stake in Fast Radius, in hopes of better understanding how 3D printing – or additive manufacturing – will affect its business long-term.

“We use (the fund) to invest in knowledge capital,” explained Alan Amling, vice-president of UPS Ventures. “Looking at new business models. How do we work with companies in the start-up community to help educate us on what the next wave of solutions will be so we can get a head start?”

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