Print yours: the state of additive manufacturing
According to the current report of SculpetoMany industries are starting to consolidate their use of 3D printing as the role of 3D printing becomes more defined in their manufacturing processes. Users are maturing in their knowledge and application of additive manufacturing: 80% of respondents have been using 3D printing for more than two years (+ 7% vs. 2019), and 31% even use it daily.
There is no doubt that AM is on a trajectory that will change many companies in the manufacturing industry. AM was firmly in the short-term or prototyping sector; today, large manufacturers continue to integrate AM into their production processes.
The number of companies that have switched to using AM for large-scale production runs of hundreds of thousands of parts has doubled from 7% in 2019 to 14% in 2020, proving that AM has evolved since the prototyping phase ”, notes the third annual study. of Essentium. During the Covid-19 pandemic, AM has proven that it can step in to make large-scale quantities of supplies, or at least the mold to make the product, to keep assembly lines moving.
Blake Teipel, PhD, CEO and Co-Founder, Essentium, Inc., commented to Silicon UK: “One of the most important breakthroughs we foresee will be the role of additive manufacturing in keeping supply chains fluid and factories on the move in the event of disruption. 3D printing is a great alternative for manufacturers to fill supply chain gaps caused by circumstances beyond their control.
Teipel continued: “We are at the start of a radical change. The additive is ready for prime time, and manufacturers are already moving into actual manufacturing to reduce manufacturing costs while building stronger supply chains that can withstand the worst kind of unforeseen events – like the pandemic. “
Manufacturing is changing rapidly. AM offers a flexible approach that can provide massive cost savings and efficiency improvements. “By redesigning existing components into lightweight models, they tend to become more complex in shape, which leads to the use of manufacturing technologies that can easily produce complex designs: namely 3D printing and additive manufacturing in plastics and metals, ”says Grant Cameron, MARYLAND, Concurrent Design Group.
“Aerospace and healthcare have found the best return on investment for metal printing. As designers become more aware of the benefits of metal 3D printing through their ability to design and produce more complex parts, including the use of trellises and other geometries to lighten the load. weight, its use will increase rapidly in other industries.
To get a glimpse of how additive manufacturing is evolving and what the future might look like, Silicon UK spoke with Rajeev Kulkarni, Vice President, Strategy, 3d systems.
What is the current state of 3D printing in industry and the home?
“Additive manufacturing (AM) is a manufacturing technology that is part of the manufacturer’s toolbox. It presents a tremendous opportunity to introduce a high level of efficiency in the industrial manufacturing process, with the possibility of printing metals and plastics, bio-printed fabrics, edible food throwing, and being applied in concrete-based construction. Beyond improving efficiency, AM also offers benefits such as material savings, reduced time to market and reduced operating costs. AM will never replace all traditional processes, although the designer and manufacturer must integrate it into their workflow when making sense of design and economy.
“Despite all the success that manufacturers have had with AM, it is a relatively ‘young’ manufacturing technology and continues to establish its base. Much of the R&D effort in the industry is focused on materials, print size, accuracy, reliability and repeatability. While all of this is under control, the need for standards for materials, processes and software is still in its infancy. The evolution of AM will continue through these efforts, adding value to many aspects of product design and manufacture.
“On the other hand, the opportunities envisioned for home 3D printing have not materialized. 3D printers originally developed for home use have moved widely into STEM classrooms, manufacturing spaces, and among “garage contractors”. The challenge of home 3D printing is rooted in the lack of useful applications for the technology and the limitations of simplistic design tools and skills to create 3D printable data. Several developments are occurring on the culinary printing front, although these are intended for use by upscale kitchens and chefs, not the average “home chef”.
Do businesses continue to see the benefits of using 3D printing in all of their businesses? Is AM part of their strategic planning?
“Manufacturing is transforming as companies bring the power of additive manufacturing into workflows based on traditional technologies. We saw evidence in a 2019 E&Y study this confirms that the adoption of additives is increasing, with almost 75% of companies adopting the technology. This same study indicates that 46% of manufacturing organizations will apply AM for end-use parts by 2022. We believe this increase in adoption is a result of the influence of technology on the product development process. – from design to production – and its ability to enable new business models and improve efficiency.
“The main design value propositions pursued are weight reduction, consolidation of the number of assemblies, increased operational efficiency with conforming designs, topologically optimized designs, multi-material parts and adoption. new materials and alloys. The business benefits that manifest as a result of these design advantages are reduced tooling costs, decentralized manufacturing, mass customization, reduced spare parts inventory, cost-effective, low-volume production, and lead time. reduced marketing.
“And the mix of design and business value makes planning within an organization very strategic. It is a project that is pushed from top to bottom and bottom to top simultaneously. “
What sectors or industries are developing their use of 3D printing?
“3D Systems, and largely the industry, is focused on developing additive manufacturing solutions to meet healthcare, aerospace, automotive and durable goods applications. These are by far the fastest growing sectors for AM. The need for customized solutions, improved efficiency and new business models are the main drivers that encourage organizations in these sectors to explore and adapt this tool for manufacturing.
“Unique AM solutions designed to meet a customer’s application needs involve digitizing data, building parts, developing custom technologies based on application needs, custom materials and supporting that. through application and commercial expertise. For example, in the healthcare industry, the development of dentures, aligners, hearing aids, implants, surgical devices, prostheses and patient-specific limb joints is made possible by additive manufacturing and benefits from the affordable customization it offers.
What challenges remain for a larger scale implementation of 3D printing technologies?
“At the heart of AM is the need to bring together software, materials, imaging systems, optics, thermal systems, motion systems, design file formats and process expertise to create a clean, tidy, usable and functional room. Around this core is the need for process and quality control tools, integration with IoT and AI, as well as the need for finishing or post-processing of the printed part.
“And, outside of this area of printing process, there is a need for improved design tools that allow designers to harness the full value of AM through the use of organic shapes, conformal designs, generative designs. , multi-material parts, etc. Finally, depending on the needs of each vertical – Aeronautics, Health, Automotive, etc. – standards are required to govern all these discrete technical elements.
“There are different levels of innovation brought to market in each of these areas, which has made the technology very fluid. Currently, within the AM industry, each organization pursues its independent path, and little work is done to harmonize standards, terms and channels of communication. As an industry, we need more work so that customers aren’t overwhelmed with the need to sort this out on their own.
“While lower costs can help, the value AM provides is so disruptive that if implemented correctly, it eliminates cost issues. There are several examples, such as jewelry, dentures, hearing aids, and aligners, where AF has been adapted by the entire industry by carefully understanding how to harness its full value and thereby negate the cost variable.
Is AM an essential element for the expansion and diversification of Industry 4.0?
“AM is inherently a digital technology, and this bodes well for Industry 4.0 as it also relies on digital platforms. 3D printing fits well into this paradigm because it is a practical solution for both product development and conventional manufacturing. This allows organizations to digitize design and manufacturing in one process and integrate with the Industry 4.0 platform that enables a networked factory.
“To enable such a networked Industry 4.0 factory, we must not only digitize and integrate the logistics of the manufacturing and delivery process, but process control, personalization and distributed manufacturing must also work together. 3D printing naturally enables this digital integration and is therefore an important element of Industry 4.0. In addition, the use of AI, AR and VR in this mix is also contributing to the evolution. “
AM is now out of the early adoption phase of its development. The capabilities of AM machines and the materials they can use have removed many of the technical barriers that existed.
AM is now a critical component for manufacturers given their processes and supply chains that they will increasingly rely on to help them innovate. The future where personalized products become the poster child of 3D printing is a more mundane revolution in day-to-day manufacturing where real innovations take place.