Bridging the additive manufacturing divide

There is a divide in the market for additive manufacturing (AM)/3D printing. On the one hand, there is a community of users that employ entry level, often relatively inaccurate printers for a range of applications, usually associated with hobbies. The extensive time consumed attempting to get these printers to work anywhere close to consistently – and their high print fail rate – is off-set by the low purchase cost. On the other hand, there is an established and growing base of users employing AM as a true industrial manufacturing tool. This latter community often requires high-end, expensive and often difficult to use AM platforms to produce the high quality AM parts that industry demands with repeatability and reliability.

Aad Janszen describes the fluxes in the AM sector and explores how one pioneering firm is approaching opportunities in this market in a compelling way

The Struggle For Additive Manufacturing

The struggle continues for AM to truly find its feet in a production setting. For sure, there is uptake, there are successes across numerous industrial sectors, but the real opportunities that exist for AM are not to replace traditional manufacturing processes such as injection moulding and machining, but instead to be incorporated with and work alongside these traditional processes in an efficient and innovative way. They need to complement and integrate seamlessly into existing product development and manufacturing processes.

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French soldiers deployed to Mali use 3D printers to make spare parts

French soldiers deployed to Operation Barkhane in the Sahel have been experimenting for several months with 3D printers to make spare parts at their base in Mali.

French soldier 3D prints parts in Gao, Mali

According to a Ministry of the Armed Forces release, Desert Tactical Group – Logistics “Charentes” is responsible for testing the feasibility of using the two 3D printers at the large base in Gao to make components.

In general, the specialists at the base a tasked to produce replacements for broken components.

They follow a familiar process – first modelling the part on a computer and then printing, testing, iterating and refining where necessary.

Small parts can be printed in minutes and more complex projects within hours, saving time and effort in transporting equipment to the relatively remote base in central Mali.

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EOS consulting division helps Daimler subsidiary implement 3D printing strategy to meet inventory challenges

Flexibility in production: Thanks to 3D printing, spare parts, e.g. for the interior of buses, can be produced quickly and cost-efficiently. (Source: Daimler Buses, EOS)

EvoBus GmbH, a subsidiary of the Daimler Group, is one of the leading manufacturers in the global omnibus segment. In order to continue expanding its pioneering role in times of increasing competitive pressure, EvoBus is pursuing two strategic aims: sustainably increase its profitability and enhance its capacity to innovate. In particular, EvoBus needs to find an answer to the growing challenges in the field of Customer Services & Parts (CSP). Daimler Buses sees additive manufacturing as a key tool in reaching these targets. In order to successfully integrate industrial 3D printing within its organization, Daimler Buses decided to rely on the expertise of Additive Minds, the consulting division of EOS, right from the early project phase. The team of experts at EOS specializes in leading customers through the various development phases of additive manufacturing.

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First 3D printed parts successfully trialled on UK passenger trains

Angel Trains, Stratasys, DB ESG and Chiltern Railways joined forces to trial the first 3D printed parts ever deployed within an in-service passenger train in the UK.

These parts include four passenger armrests and seven grab handles, which have been installed on Chiltern Railways trains. The trial’s success to date demonstrates how 3D printing can help train operators accelerate the replacement of obsolete parts, enabling them to get vehicles back into service quicker and better maintain their trains – improving the quality of service for passengers.

The cross-industry collaboration between Angel Trains, DB ESG and Stratasys aims to leverage 3D printing to help overcome issues around the replacement of obsolete parts across the UK rail industry. Unlike the automotive industry, where vehicles from household brands are mass produced in their millions each year, the number of fleets in the rail industry are comparatively very small and, in some cases, over 30 years old. This combination presents several challenges for train operators, especially when it comes to vehicle maintenance and part replacement.

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Materials Solutions achieves NADCAP accreditation for additive manufacturing in Aerospace

Materials Solutions, a Siemens business, has received accreditation from the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program (NADCAP) for additive manufacturing in the aerospace sector. A reported first for a UK 3D printing company in this industry Phil Hatherley, General Manager at Materials Solutions, comments, “We knew that in order to deliver the highest quality parts for the aerospace sector we needed to get the NADCAP accreditation to show we were serious about working in the sector.”

NADCAP and the aerospace sector

Siemens uses Additive Manufacturing to produce various gas turbine components. Materials Solutions manufactures burner heads for Siemens gas turbines in series production. This burner heads have to withstand extreme conditions during commercial power plant operation. Photo via Materials Solutions.

NADCAP is a cooperative, industry-managed approach assessing the conformity of ‘special processes’ set by technical experts, suppliers, the National Physical Laboratory, and the National Measurement Institute.

It is universally recognized and incorporated by the aerospace industry for risk mitigation activity as it validates compliance with industry standards, best practices, and customer requirements. Both Italian metal 3D printing service provider Beam IT and QC Laboratories, Inc., a non-destructive testing (NDT) services company, have NADCAP approval for aerospace production.

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CECIMO promises to “cushion impact on additive manufacturing” in EU talks

CECIMO, the association representing the interests of machine tool and manufacturing technologies, has released a new statement concerning additive manufacturing’s position in upcoming discussions by the European Commission.

Image from What is Additive Manufacturing? via cecimo.eu

Having given a formal statement in March 2019, CECIMO has reiterated its commitment to keeping additive manufacturing at the center of decisions relating to product liability, intellectual property (IP) rights, and the U.S.-EU trade deal.

“Before the end of the year,” the association states, “additive manufacturing will be at the centerstage at the European level.”

The Commission is due to publish a new study and guidelines that will rekindle debates surrounding quality standards and the difference between Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) relations.  In such debates, the association reiterates, “CECIMO will address policymakers to avoid burdening the sector with unnecessary regulation.”

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Rapid increase in end-use adoption to boost 3D printed drugs market revenue growth

3D printing was pioneered way back in 1986 but has recently begun to enter the public consciousness. Over the past ten years, it has blurred the boundaries between science fiction and fact. It is also known as Additive Manufacturing and is used in the automobile industry, aerospace & defence, retail and in the medical healthcare industry, amongst many others. A major component of this is the 3D printed drugs market. 3D printing helps make what was once expensive and inaccessible much more cost-effective. Can this be more apt and necessary anywhere else than in the field of medicine? 3D printing is already used to print artificial bones, to create surgical materials with 3D scans to replace a damaged or missing bone and even to create hearing aid devices. Skull implants have been made for people with head injuries and even titanium heels to replace bone cancer afflicted patients.

There are several factors which help the 3D printed drugs market to grow. One key advantage is their instantaneous solubility. 3D printed drugs are produced using powder bed inkjet printing. The elements of the drug are added in a layer by layer approach akin to 3D printing for any other device. This makes the drugs easier to swallow and can be very helpful for patients suffering from dysphagia. 3D printing could also augment the arrival of individualised drugs, or the creation of a combination of drugs. They could be customised for each patient, which would help much more than batch-produced drugs since they would be created specifically taking into account that patient’s medical history. The 3D printed drug market could also make children far less resistant to taking their required medication, since they may be able to choose the shape, colour, design and even taste of the tablet! These are anticipated to be the main drivers of the 3D printed drug market.

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How 3D printing is changing the cosmetics industry

Everyday products that fill a household seem simple enough to make. However, most require a complex mold process. First, a liquid is poured into a mold cavity. After it dries, the mold is peeled away to reveal the new plastic design.

Items like plastic bottles, soap dispensers and medicine bottles are all made with this process. Most cosmetics also come in plastic containers made with mold releases.

The rise of 3D printing has made it easier than ever to design complex shapes without the need for a mold. The technology is making a significant impact on several industries, including the cosmetics industry.

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ASTM International launches second $300,000 funding round for 3D printing standards

Global standards developer ASTM International has announced the second round of funding to support the research and development of standards for the additive manufacturing industry. 

Additive Manufacturing at AMCOE. Photo via ASTM International.

Comprising an investment of $300,000 and in-kind contributions, the funding will aid ASTM International Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AM CoE)’s objective to address the needs for technical standardization in the growing additive manufacturing industry.

The investment covers nine research projects helping to expedite standards in additive manufacturing. Dr. Mohsen Seifi, ASTM International’s Director of Global Additive Manufacturing Programs, explains that each project contributes towards different standard gaps in design, feedstock, process, post-processing, testing, and qualification. Seifi adds,

“WE ARE THRILLED TO FUND SOME OF THE MOST CRUCIAL AND HIGH-IMPACT RESEARCH PROJECTS IN ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING TO ACCELERATE STANDARDIZATION.”

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How will 3D printing impact the food industry?

The fifth Innovation Food Conference — iFood 2019 — will be held at Anuga in Cologne, Germany, in October. Suitable for food retailers, technologists and manufacturers, the conference aims to jointly work out approaches for the development of efficient value chains for sustainable and attractive products.

Speakers at the iFood conference will discuss the ecological, social and economic dimensions of sustainability, addressing issues such as ethics, animal welfare, resource efficiency, consumer health and food authenticity.

How will 3D printing impact the food industry?

Presentations about digitalisation will encompass many topics pertaining to the food industry. The conference will question what digitalisation offers to the food industry in terms of transparency and traceability, and the role of artificial intelligence within the food industry. Experts will provide insights into the economic impacts and opportunities of digitalisation, alongside discussing topics such as blockchain.

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