Between enabling profound new designs and upending the traditional supply chain, the unlimited potential with metal 3D printing will transform the manufacturing landscape. Indeed, the transformation has already begun. But, getting metal AM into production is taking a lot longer than many media pundits predicted. It’s even progressing much slower than many “in-the-know” industry insiders expected.
Why is mass adoption so slow with metal 3D printing, especially in production? It really boils down to one word: economics. If the economics work, the application moves forward into production. If not, it’s dead on arrival. The numbers need to work because when it comes to production competitive manufacturing, technologies come into play. Customers start to say things like, “Well, if I make a couple of modifications to the design I can use CNC machining or metal injection molding and save a huge amount on the production cost.”
“A systematic basis for calculating the time interval (TI) to be followed during laboratory testing is proposed for the full-width printing (FWP) and filament printing (FP) processes,” the researchers state. “The proposed approach is validated by applying it to a high-strength, printable, fine-grained concrete. Comparative analyses of FWP and FP revealed that to test the buildability of a material for FP processes, higher velocities of the printhead should be established for laboratory tests in comparison to those needed for FWP process, providing for equal construction rates.”
A company backed by the CIA that calls itself Arevo is hoping to lead a revolution in manufacturing that uses 3D printing to build products in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. The Silicon Valley, California startup recently picked up $12.5 million in funding to help pursue this goal and has revealed an impressive proof-of-concept product to help demonstrate its capabilities. That product is a carbon fiber bike frame that could give us a glimpse of the future for the cycling industry.
According to Arevo, its bike frame is the first to be 3D printed using carbon fiber. The company uses 3D printer technology, paired with a custom-built robotic arm and web-based software, to create products made from proprietary raw materials. The robot arm is able to print out shapes in a single pass using a thermoplastic material that is melted into strands of carbon fiber that helps bind everything together. The end result is a bike frame that costs about $300 to make, which is considerably less than what most bike manufacturers pay.
A price decrease in a major raw material used in the 3D printing of plastic products is expected to further advance the use of additive manufacturing, as 3D printing is also known, by high volume manufacturers such as Ford and Adidas.
Silicon Valley-based 3D technology company, Carbon Inc, says it will reduce the prices of some of its polymer resins and expects this will result in a significant increase in the addressable market for 3D manufactured parts.
In a news release, the company said it would lower prices by 40 per cent. It expects the reduction in the price of rigid polyurethane, or RPU 70, to $150 per liter, down from the current $250 per liter, will facilitate economic production particularly for Adidas.
The shoe manufacturer will be able to cost-effectively print, “… thousands or millions of parts … compared to other manufacturing methods such as injection molding,” noted Carbon Inc chief executive Dr Joseph DeSimone.
New materials developed to expand 3D printing need published material properties, but there are layers of difficulty.
Designing functional engineered systems using 3D printing requires more data on material properties. A paper that helped add some of the necessary data on the “Thermal Properties of 3-D Printing Polylactic Acid–Metal Composites” was published. Researchers aimed the study at copperFill, bronzeFill, magnetic iron polylactic acid (PLA), and stainless-steel PLA composites and provide insight into the technical considerations of fused filament fabrication (FFF) composite 3-D printing. The following is taken from this study.
3D printed drone technology has been an emerging area over the past year, with military surveillance use seeing a particular boom.
To add to the recent developments in drone delivery systems and swarming dronespurpose built to be air dropped, U.S. Marine TOW gunner Cpl. Rhet McNeal has developed a hand-launched fixed wing drone, with the help of NexLog (the US Marine Corps’ “Next Generation Logistics innovation group”, in conjunction with Penn State university) and Autodesk.
Autodesk is a CAD design development software company that additionally offers residencies to developers with full access of professional tools and advice at their purpose built Pier 9 workshop in San Francisco, California.
The cost of 3D printing is often cited as a reason why firms aren’t driving to adopt the technology more resolutely. Perhaps the increased competition of having a big hitter like HP will change the dynamics of the industry.
With its release of a 3D printing materials development kit and the opening of its 3D printing applications lab, HP looks to expand the development and lower the costs of additive manufacturing.
After years of announcements about the potentials for additive manufacturing/3D printing in the discrete manufacturing and process industries, there has recently been a spate of news announcements from end users and technology suppliers that show the rapid progress this technology is making across industry. Now, there’s news from HP—a company more traditionally associated with enterprise and consumer technologies—surrounding what it calls “significant milestones to its open platform for 3D printing materials and production-ready applications development.”
Before detailing the two new announcements from HP, it’s worth noting that, in May 2016, HP released its HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, a production-ready commercial 3D printing system which HP said could “deliver superior quality physical parts up to 10 times faster and at half the cost of current 3D print systems.” This printing system can reportedly print functional parts at the individual voxel level (a voxel is the 3D equivalent of a 2D pixel in traditional printing).
A case study always brings to life the theory, making it real, and one that demonstrates the impact of 3D printing on the supply chain is always welcome! Boston Engineering has recently been using the capabilities of the Rize One industrial 3D printer to speed up the cycle time of production and to lowering costs. Sarah Saunders of 3dprint.com takes up the story.
Massachusetts-based industrial 3D printing company Rize Inc., known for its augmented polymer deposition technology, introduced its desktop Rize One 3D printer last summer: the printer, with its high-speed support removal, pretty much eliminates the need for post-processing, saving users all kinds of time. We saw first-hand just last month that, as promised, the support structures do snap off quite quickly. The Rize One was the subject of a recent case study at Boston Engineering, also in Massachusetts, which provides engineering consulting and product design services for many industries, including consumer products, robotics, medical devices, and commercial products. The company has an FDM 3D printer in its additive manufacturing lab, but it was taking too long for the engineers, who are not housed in the lab, to get their 3D printed parts.
Boston Engineering works hard to beat its competition and solve client challenges, by quickly getting products to market or designing the products themselves. But, you need speed to be the best, and the company’s current system just wasn’t working. The additive manufacturing lab is located far away from the offices, because the current 3D printer’s post-processing method needs the parts to soak in a chemical bath to remove support materials. The issue was causing a major bottleneck, as engineers were having to wait up to three days to get their 3D printed parts back from the lab. Add this to any possible design iterations that resulted in further 3D prints, and you can see the problem. In addition, the company’s FDM 3D printer was costing Boston Engineering too much money, what with the high operating costs that came with the necessary post-processing (materials, handling, labor, etc.).
While 3D printing is undoubted entering mainstream manufacture – and at rates that are faster than many realise – it is important to note that there continue to be challenges to be overcome. This isn’t a surprise, after all all disruptive technologies do. This article from Apple Rubber discusses some of the key ones.
According to Wohlers Associates, the global 3D printing market is expected to reach $21 billion by 2020 — quadrupling its size in just four years. While 3D printing, also referred to as additive manufacturing, comes with many benefits, such as freedom of design, easy prototyping, customization and streamlined logistics, it also poses many challenges.
In order to fully leverage this transformational technology, we identified five 3D printing challenges that manufacturing leaders must understand.