Leveraging 3D printing data to improve manufacturing efficiency
Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, is a manufacturing process which is fast becoming an integral part of the factory of the future. Products are designed using software-based CAD systems and then layer-upon-layer of material is added to fabricate almost any object, including aircraft parts, dental restorations, medical implants, automobiles, jewelry and soon, possibly even human tissue.
Industry adoption of AM is increasing rapidly. The analyst firm SmarTech Publishing, reported that revenues for metal 3D printing grew 24% to exceed $1bn for the first time in 2017, and they predict that revenues will reach $9.3bn by 2027. Rolls Royce has been using AM to manufacture aerospace products for over a decade.
As 3D printing starts to bridge the gap between prototyping and production, some companies are looking at streamlining CAD software, and making it more accessible.
3D design and printing technology has advanced at an alarming rate. We can now print complex objects from different materials, in different colors, in rapid time — even in the comfort of our own homes.
Then there’s the varied commercial applications for 3D printing (3DP). One survey of US manufacturers found that two out of three companies are already adopting 3DP in some way. Some of these companies include General Electric, Nike, Airbus, Amazon, Hasbro, Hershey’s, Boeing, and Ford. And we hear countless stories of 3D-printed houses, cars, aircraft components, musical instruments, shoes, robots, and body parts, just to give a few examples.
Whether manufacturing personalised surgical guides, eye-catching consumer packaging, cutting-edge prototypes or anything in between, there are numerous advantages to 3D printing in transparent plastics.
The new materials designed, manufactured and supported by 3D Systems have pushed clear printing to the boundaries of what’s possible, offering ultra-high transparency, moisture and temperature resistance, biocompatibility, robustness and performance.
Data-driven systems. Unique partnerships leading to increased productivity, efficiency and cost reductions. A changing landscape with a bigger focus on automation. Manufacturing’s outlook at the start of 2017 began a conversation on ways to propel the industry headfirst into the integrated, digital world.
One of the digital initiatives at the forefront of this crusade is the Internet of Things (IoT). Over the past several years, the industry has been learning best practices and watching its impacts on production, and 2017 proved to be no different. This past year, companies continued to focus on modernizing their production floors by developing IoT business strategies, and implementing it through software, equipment and training.
Additive manufacturing builds up parts by binding plastics and other materials together, with lasers, LEDs, other light sources, heaters or electron beams supplying the necessary energy. The resulting parts are light yet still strong. What’s more, they can be built to order and customized as needed.
Additive manufacturing, aka 3D printing, makes parts one at a time and eliminates the need for retooling when a design is changed. It is used for aerospace, military and other demanding applications, as well as in automotive prototyping or other areas where it offers a cost advantage. For now, high-volume additive manufacturing remains more expensive than traditional production, but the goal is to make it part of the standard manufacturing tool kit.
Alan Amling is VP of UPS’s Supply Chain Solutions. Most of his career has been on the innovation-side of the business-marketing strategy, e-commerce strategy, new-product development-mixed with business unit marketing leadership roles. Looking at the future, the convergence of trends and how he can keep on the right-side of disruption. He currently runs UPS’s Global On-Demand Manufacturing Initiative, but has his hands in some emerging technologies (IoT, blockchain), opportunities (global e-commerce) and disrupters (platform businesses, smart cities) with a constant focus on sustainability (economic, environmental and social).
Published in September 2017, in conjunction with Imperial College London’s Additive Manufacturing Network, this paper presents an overview of the potential economic, technical and environmental benefits of additive manufacturing (AM) – 3D printing – as well as the current hurdles across the AM process chain that need to be overcome to realise a more-effective and more-profitable industry. For example, improved design software, faster printing technology, increased automation and better industry standards are required.
Imperial College London is equipped to play a leading role in the UK’s ever-growing AM landscape. The current portfolio of AM-based research is varied and encompasses problems across the entire design-to-end-use-product chain. Research projects include, for instance, the development of new design methodologies for optimised multimaterial AM parts, novel metal-based AM printing techniques, investigations of fundamental AM material properties and 3D printing of next-generation biomaterials for medical applications.
AM research at Imperial can be further extended by capitalising on the College’s world-class scientific and engineering expertise and factilities, its culture of collaboration and history of effective research translation. There are several ways for external partners interested in the AM field to engage with Imperial academics: focused workshops, bespoke consultancy services, funding for specific research projects and facilities, or student placements
Download the paper
3D printing has moved from the margins to the mainstream and it is design and manufacturing companies that are really starting to benefit from the unique characteristics of additive technologies, enabling them to reduce the time it takes to bring products to market, says Matthew Aldridge, igus’ managing director.
For many years, 3D printing was viewed as something of a technological curiosity. The nature of additive manufacturing was so different to traditional subtractive technologies that it quickly caught the public’s imagination. 3D printing was everywhere: on TV, at exhibitions, in the national press. But after the initial fascination fell away, one primary question was being asked: 3D printing might represent a new way of making products, but when would it ever be used?
Design-rich experience and immediate product delivery are the new normal in consumer demand, which is forcing radical shifts in the global supply chain. 3D printing is a critical component to a successful transition to on-demand manufacturing.
On-demand products are customer-specific items produced at (or near) the point of need.
Sounds simple enough, right?
But for supply chain managers, nothing could be less simple. They will spend restless nights and long, bleary-eyed days in front of spreadsheets, trying to align their piece of operational model to the needs of on-demand manufacturing.
An independent review of the UK’s manufacturing sector led by Jürgen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK, has reached completion. The Made Smarter Review Report calls for government and businesses to come together and embrace the nation’s potential as a leader of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).
The study follows earlier recommendations from AM UK and the UK Additive Manufacturing National Strategy 2018-2025, which also found that 3D printing will make a significant contribution to high-value manufacturing.