3D metal printer to shorten military supply chain

In an attempt to shorten the U.S. military’s supply chain, the United States Army Research Laboratory has awarded a $15 million contract to 3D systems to develop a metal printing 3D printer.

The company will team up with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) to develop the “largest, fastest, most precise metal 3D printer.”

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The intent is to add capabilities to military supply chains developing and manufacturing combat vehicles, helicopters, missile defense capabilities, long rang munitions, and more.

The project is a part of the United States Army’s Additive Manufacturing Implementation Plan that uses 3D printing technologies to refurbish and create military parts and tools.

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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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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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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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Making the virtual a reality with additive manufacturing

“Using AM with virtual inventories cuts out the headache and costs of balancing excess and shortages in physical inventory at individual locations.”

The efficiency-enhancing benefits of 3D printing/additive manufacturing (AM) can deliver many quantifiable advantages for supply chain managers. In a previous column I talked about its ability to simplify the supply chain via the production of complex parts. Another key aspect of AM that can deliver even more significant efficiencies within supply chains, is its ability to enable the use of virtual/digital inventories. This is quite literally the ability to access and pull parts from a digital (rather than physical) inventory and then quickly and effortlessly 3D print them anywhere at any time in the exact quantity desired. The digital inventory can be stored on a local disk, in a central disk, or even in the cloud.

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This has several positive implications, the first of which is the huge cost saving that arises from eradicating the need for large physical inventories. Let’s face it, physical inventory is the weak spot in any supply chain; it has no benefits beyond the availability of parts and is a burden for companies that pay enormous amounts of money to maintain it. Similarly, from a logistics perspective using AM with virtual inventories cuts out the headache and costs of balancing excess and shortages in physical inventory at individual locations. Indeed, the logistical benefits are even greater as virtual inventories simplify and streamline the entire distribution network at the geographic level. Think about it – there’s no longer any physical inventory, which means the traditional central-to-region-to-local distribution model is eradicated, as is the need to do projections… which, of course, have to be exact, lest the company suffers from more delays and more costs. In contrast, working digitally takes no time at all and so much cheaper.

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Benefits of 3D printing in the Automotive Industry

The automotive industry has always had a longstanding relationship with 3D printing and technology in general. Automotive companies that are seemingly successful, have been known over the years to experiment with various 3D printing technology and applications, which has consequently had a considerable influence on the supply chain as well as on product development. Smaller automotive manufacturers, especially, have benefited from the use of 3D printing and have included it as a critical component of their production owing to its many advantages.

In recent times, the automotive industry outdated the predominant use of prototyping applications for purposes of additive engineering into the end-use invention. The flexible nature of the technology and the extensive design freedom offered to car manufacturers has led to the creation of new and cutting-edge designs, therefore revolutionizing the entire automotive industry.

Benefits of 3D printing in the automotive industry

Additive manufacturing is a wide-ranging term that refers to a series of processes that allows the creation of parts and components in an additive instead of a subtractive manner. What this means is that car components are created layer by layer rather than having material extracted from a large block. This technique and approach, as well as the technologies used, come with numerous advantages that are hard to find in conventional manufacturing processes. The benefits of using 3D printing in the car industry include:

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3D printing transformed from emerging tech to industry standard

Bilby 3D explains how 3D printers help manufacture products in new and cost-effective ways for more efficiency in facilities.

3D Printing is no longer an emerging technology reserved for the cutting edge development labs. It is industry standard and rapidly being adopted by Australian companies, micro to multinational, to dramatically shorten the time to market.

People might be surprised just how much 3D printing has touched the goods and services they use every day. From the design and development of household appliances and motor vehicles, to being used to manufacture on-demand warranty parts. When looking deeper into the companies, people are likely to find 3D printing incorporated somewhere in a product life cycle.

The maintenance of warranty parts has long been a hidden cost to manufacturers. Electrolux started trials within the Asia Pacific region in 2017, 3D Printing on demand spare parts. Porsche Classic, a division of Porsche, is similarly looking to 3D printing production of rare parts in small quantities. With a parts catalogue exceeding 52,000 parts, the cost savings have the potential to be considerable.

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Heineken latest to harness 3D print power

The Dutch brewing company is utilising the power of 3D print at its manufacturing site in Spain.

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Despite still being in the early stages of its use, Heineken has seen increased productivity and a reduction in production costs by using 3D printing technology to create tools and parts on-demand.

Using a set of Ultimaker S5 printers, engineers at the site in Seville can design and print safety devices, tools and parts on-demand, taking away the need to outsource to external vendors.

“We’re still in the first stages of 3D printing, but we’ve already seen a reduction of costs in the applications that we found by 70-90% and also a decrease of delivery time of these applications of 70-90%,” says Isabelle Haenen, global supply chain procurement at Heineken.

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The time is now for introducing AM in the oil and gas industry, says Aidro CEO

Valeria Tirelli highlights evident benefits in optimized hydraulic manifolds

Northern Italy-based Aidro Hydraulics & 3D Printing is part of a Joint Innovation Programs (JIPs) focused on 3D printing of functional production parts for the Oil, Gas and Maritime industries. Participating companies in the project include giants such as Equinor, BP, Total, Rolls Royce Marine, TechnipFMC, Vallourec. Members include companies specialized in additive manufacturing such as Aidro, SLM Solutions, Additive Industries, Voestalpine, OCAS, Ivaldi Group, Quintus, HIPtec, University of Strathclyde and Siemens.

The adoption of additive manufacturing in the oil and gas segment can generate advantages in areas such as fast delivery of spare parts and stock reduction, fast prototyping, accelerating R&D and introducing new and innovative solutions. SmarTech Analysis just published a new 180-page report on the upcoming business opportunities for AM in the oil and gas segment. The future looks bright.

Aidro contributes to the JIPs with its technical expertise as a valve manufacturer and as a first adopter of metal additive manufacturing. Aidro’s CEO, Valeria Tirelli, established an internal department dedicated to the design and production with laser PBF systems. The technical experience acquired by Aidro in AM, certified AS/EN9100, enables Aidro to be taken as a model to be compared with the requirements of the guidelines. 3D Printing Media Network spoke with Valeria Tirelli to learn how AM is changing the oil and gas segment for the better.

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Additive Success Brewing on Factory Floor: Ultimaker’s new president (AMERICAS) talks about a recent Heineken case study and how additive opportunities can could bubble up throughout enterprises.

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Having a 3D printer on the factory floor has always been an intriguing proposition, as who wouldn’t want to bypass the supply chain entirely and whip up a quick replacement part, or even better, a brand new optimized tool or maybe even specialized robot grippers, right then and there? That is perfectly reasonable and could do everything from truncate downtimes and lead to safer and more efficient operations. Several manufacturers have found certain 3D printers as invaluable new tools that cannot only create prototypes, but also the jigs, fixtures and tooling to enable production.

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