3D Printing: What is it good for?

Will 3D printing encourage companies to move to decentralized manufacturing or stick with centralized manufacturing?

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), could be a game-changer for manufacturing, enabling significant savings of cost, time, and materials. In traditional manufacturing, parts are made in large quantities at centralized factories, then shipped to consumers. But with the growth of 3D printing, many wonder if technology will cause a shift from this centralized model to a more distributed model, in which facilities in different locations coordinate to fill manufacturing needs.

3D printer and question marks

A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Engineering and Public Policy Dept. (EPP) and the University of Lisbon investigated how 3D printing could contribute to distributed manufacturing. They examined whether 3D printing will disrupt this central model, specifically in the context of spare parts for the aerospace industry, where being able to quickly print parts instead of stockpiling them would be attractive.

“Our results suggest that 3D printing may not be as conducive to distributed manufacturing as some might hope,” says Parth Vaishnav, a research professor in EPP. He and his team believe 3D printing is more suitable for non-critical parts that do not need to be expensively processed after emerging from the printers.

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What are the benefits of 3D printing technology?

Professionals are most commonly using 3D printing technology for prototyping prospective products/parts/components

One of the fastest-growing developments in the world of technology has been that of 3D printing. It is the process of depositing successive layers of material (e.g. plastic, metal, wax etc.) in a 3D printer, to create a physical object envisioned from a digital model.

3D printing technology has already been heavily adopted in industries like aerospace, automotive and industrial goods. With organizations in these respective industries utilizing 3D printing for aspects such as making those parts/components that cannot be manufactured through conventional machining or laser processing techniques. 

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Professionals reveal how they are benefiting from 3D printing technology

One of the fastest-growing developments in the world of technology has been that of 3D printing.

It is the process of depositing successive layers of material (e.g. plastic, metal, wax etc.) in a 3D printer, to create a physical object envisioned from a digital model.

3D printing technology has already been heavily adopted in industries like aerospace, automotive and industrial goods. With organisations in these respective industries utilising 3D printing for aspects such as making those parts/components that cannot be manufactured through conventional machining or laser processing techniques.

Interested in cutting-edge technology, mobile phone specialists Case24.com analysed findings from online 3D printing services provider Sculpteo, who surveyed 1,000 professionals (from a range of industries) to better understand how they are using 3D printing technology.

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The 3D printing promise of weight optimization is not about parts, it’s about systems

A key lesson learned talking with aerospace 3D printing companies at PAS 2019, that can be applied to all industrial segments

The Paris Air Show was a huge success for the largest aerospace players and for many innovative aerospace 3D printing companies. The aviation and space industries are rocketing toward booming growth with no slow down anywhere on the horizon. While additive manufacturing is still just a tiny – to use a euphemism – segment of aerospace manufacturing, all leading companies in aerospace are very much invested in developing it. The reason may be found in one of the largest deals ever closed during the show: the $55 billion in orders that CFM – a joint venture between GE and Safran – received for its LEAP engine. The LEAP engine is super efficient and is enabling a new generation of single-aisle jets – such as the Airbus321neo flown by French operator Le Compagnie in its new all-business flights – to make trips across the Atlantic on a single tank of fuel.

Last April, for instance, a LEAP-engine-powered Airbus A321neo LR loaded with 162 dummy passengers and 16 crew completed a test flight from Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, to the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean that lasted 11 hours and covered 5,466 miles. It was the longest distance flight in the certification process of the A321neo. At the Paris Air Show Airbus formally unveiled a new long-range A321neo, officially designated the A321XLR, which will become available from 2023. The twinjet will have a maximum take-off weight of 101t and a range of 4,700nm compared with the 4,000nm of the current 97t long-range A321LR variant. GE and most operators expect that these efficient single-aisle aircraft will make up the bulk of order for the foreseeable future.

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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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3D printer makes peacekeeping missions cheaper and repair of defense systems faster

Peacekeeping missions often take place at remote locations, requiring the army to have a large supply of spare parts on site to keep everything running. Dutch researcher Bram Westerweel comes to the conclusion that taking a 3D printer on a mission to print parts can save hundreds of thousands of euros and, at the same time, reduce the downtime of defense equipment. The savings on operational costs sometimes total more than half. The findings of Westerweel, who received his Ph.D. yesterday, can also be applied to industries with remote locations, such as the offshore industry.

Quick return on investment

The army’s systems have many thousands of types of spare parts. Based on his research, Westerweel expects that a total of 10-20 percent of the components of the armed forces can be made by additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. The total savings by 3D printing on relatively large peacekeeping missions like the ones in Mali and Sudan, could then run up to hundreds of thousands. The printer itself costs a one-off €25,000, making for a quick return on investment. The Dutch army is already experimenting with such a printer in Mali.

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Material World: Upholding supply chain efficiencies with additive manufacturing

“Current geo-political trends are very much in sync with AM, most particularly when talking about cross border trade and governments’ efforts to increase local manufacturing.”

Supply Chain Management

Most people have heard about 3D Printing and its industrial application: additive manufacturing (AM). The mainstream media has occasionally highlighted the technology’s more off-the-wall and outlandish applications but in the industrial world AM is impacting the manufacturing of companies in quite a few sectors. This, necessarily, affects those companies’ supply chain as well. Indeed, within the supply chain itself, the efficiency-enhancing benefits of AM can deliver many quantifiable advantages for supply chain managers. Each advantage, from simplifying processes, through reducing bottlenecks to ultimately decreasing costs is a column in and of itself, but here I’ll just give a taste of the technology’s timely relevance for supply chain managers.

Current geo-political trends are very much in sync with AM, most particularly when talking about cross border trade and governments’ efforts to increase local manufacturing. Physical parts held up in transit are a threat for just-in-time production and local manufacturers. Just recently, the CEO of automotive manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover in the UK, Dr. Ralf Speth, raised this issue in the context of Brexit, the UK’s impending exit from the European Union.

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Your next flight is brought to you by 3D printing

The technology will revolutionize manufacturing, but how? United Technologies, GE and Honeywell are taking different approaches.

Fit to print.

Like the cotton gin and the modern assembly line, 3D printing is the kind of breakthrough advancement that holds the promise to revolutionize manufacturing. The technology lets companies input designs into a printer the size of a small garden shed and have it spit out fully formed, usable products or parts – often at a savings of time, manpower and money.

This potential isn’t lost on industrial giants like General Electric Co., Honeywell International Inc. and United Technologies Corp.: if you can make a part cheaper, faster or better, that’s worth something. So all three companies are investing in the technology and using it to rethink the way they run their businesses. But they’re doing so in different and interesting ways.

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Maine Pointe: How 3D printing will impact the global supply chain

3D printing is touted as one of the most disruptive developments in manufacturing and beyond. UK-based Simon Knowles, Chief Marketing Officer at Maine Pointe, reflects on the impact the innovative technology can have on supply chain management. He outlines potential benefits of the technology and five ways it will impact the supply chain. 

How 3D printing will impact the global supply chain

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing is a process which uses a three-dimensional digital model to create a physical object by adding many thin layers of material in succession, subsequently lowering cost by cutting out waste. This is radically different from current, subtractive production methods where up to 90% of the original block of material can be wasted. Although we tend to think of it as a new technology, the first 3D printer was introduced nearly 30 years ago.

So far, issues such as durability, speed and protection of intellectual property rights have prevented 3D printing from entering mainstream manufacturing. However, the industry is making rapid advancements and it’s only a matter of time before we see it significantly impacting global supply chains and operations. According to the Global Supply Chain Institute (GSCI), “some supply chain professionals predict 3D printing will eventually rival the impact of Henry Ford’s assembly line.” This technology has the power to help companies significantly reduce costs, overcome geopolitical risks / tariffs, improve customer service, reduce their carbon footprint and drive innovation for competitive advantage.

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