Can AM play a part in tomorrow’s sustainable energy mix and will it be worth it?
Establishing additive manufacturing as a truly sustainable production method inevitably entails powering tomorrow’s 3D printers. Small polymer systems require minimal power, but farms of thousands of machines, larger PBF systems and especially metal systems do and will require massive amounts of energy to function. 3D printing can facilitate distributed manufacturing, which means that products will be less reliable on transportation, so the main challenge in making AM more sustainable is by powering 3D printers using clean energy.
The world depends upon disruptive technology, including big data analytics, IoT, cloud computing, etc. These technologies have a great impact all around, and the future of the supply chain depends upon such advanced technology.
Similarly, an advanced technology, i.e. 3D printing, is shaping the supply chain. According to reports, the use of 3D printers is gradually increasing.
Getting spare parts where they need to go in a quick, reliable way is a logistical challenge for military and industrial supply chains. Researchers from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and North Carolina State University have developed a computational model to help determine how best to incorporate additive manufacturing (AM) technologies into these spare parts supply chains.
AM technologies, or “3D printers,” hold tremendous potential for alleviating some of the logistical challenges associated with providing spare parts when and where they are needed. However, AM technologies can be expensive and tricky to transport. They also require personnel who have specialized training. What’s more, spare parts supply chains can be particularly complicated, because there is usually intermittent demand – meaning you likely don’t know when you’ll need to provide a particular part or how many parts might be needed at any point in time.
round 83% of oil and gas companies are considering adopting 3D printing or on-demand manufacturing to meet their spare part production needs, according to an industry report.
Published by digital manufacturing provider Protolabs, the ‘Decision Time’ survey has revealed how firms in the oil services sector intend to adapt to sustainability challenges, by engaging in Manufacturing-as-a-Service (MaaS). In doing so, the report says that the industry aims to cut its costs, reduce its CO2 emissions and adapt to the “green energy transition.”
“The sector’s appetite to secure a long-term future means that companies are branching out into other industries and extending their capabilities,” explains Bjoern Klaas, VP and MD of Protolabs Europe. “With the energy transition revolutionizing the sector, combined with a much lower profit environment, it is imperative that companies continue to innovate and embrace renewable markets.”
Automaker teams with Siemens, HP to make lighter components, with goal of 100,000 annually by 2025
Volkswagen has begun certifying prototype 3D-printed structural components, with the aim of producing 100,000 parts annually by 2025.
VW is teaming with Siemens and HP to industrialize 3D printing of structural parts, which can be significantly lighter than equivalent components made of sheet steel.
The automaker will use an additive process known as binder jetting to make the components at its main plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. HP is providing the printers and Siemens will supply the manufacturing software.
Shell, the British-Dutch multinational Oil and Gas Company, is leveraging spare parts 3D printing to foray into digital warehouse. The company aims to focus on the revolutionary 3D printing technology to optimise its repair and replacement strategies and ultimately enable a digital warehouse approach to spare part management.
Shell believes the technology can reduce the costs, delivery time and the carbon footprint of spare parts and so it is collaborating with industry leaders to push the innovation of 3D printing for the energy sector.
Shell’s in-house 3D printing capability started in 2011 with a metal laser-printing machine to fabricate unique testing equipment for laboratory experiments at the Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam (STCA). Today, Shell has about 15 polymer, ceramic, and metal printers located at its technology centres in Amsterdam and Bangalore.
Defense Department officials want to accelerate the adoption of additive manufacturing to solve frontline and logistical challenges alike under a recent policy change, even as the department’s watchdog raises new concerns about how the military secures its 3D printing systems.
In June, DoD issued its first additive manufacturing policy. The publication follows closely on the heels of DoD’s first-ever additive manufacturing (AM) strategy, released in January.
Cranes manufacturer Huisman said it has successfully tested four new 3D printed 350mt crane hooks under the supervision of the independent certification authority Lloyd’s Register.
The hooks are approx. 170 by 130cm in size, almost nine times larger than the first Huisman 3D printed crane hook, the company said. They have a weight of 1,700kg each and a loading capacity of 350mt. Each hook exists of approx. 90 kilometers of welding wire.
Huisman has been employing the 3D printing technique ‘Wire & Arc Additive Manufacturing’ (WAAM) to produce mid-size to large components with high-grade tensile steel. According to the company, an important benefit of using this technique for crane hooks is the significant reduction in delivery time at a cost that competes with forgings and castings, and a more consistent quality level.
The oil and gas industry is embracing new technologies to save time and costs and, most recently, to reduce the carbon footprint of its supply chain as the energy sector is under increased pressure to reward shareholders while helping to fight climate change. Along with artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital twins, and robotics, the world’s biggest oil and gas firms and oilfield services providers are betting on 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, to streamline operations, cut costs and save time, and reduce emissions from spare parts manufacturing.
Over the past decade, some of the biggest oil and gas firms in the world have turned to 3D printing to procure parts and create digital warehouses to procure and manage the supply of necessary equipment.
One such example is supermajor Shell (2.60%), which believes that additive manufacturing technology can reduce the costs, delivery time, and the carbon footprint of spare parts. Shell has ongoing projects with other industry players, including Baker Hughes (3.06%), to push the innovation of 3D printing for the energy sector, say Nick van Keulen, Supply Chain Digitalisation Manager and Angeline Goh, 3D Printing Technology Manager at Shell.
IN order to move towards a broader and in-depth proliferation of enhanced technologies in the manufacturing industry, it is of utmost importance for the international community of manufacturers to exemplify leadership in employing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. Uplifting factories, supply chains and business models, aiming to minimise operational costs, maximise profits and fortify manpower development are the targeted ideals of this unified front.
This is a crucial move to embark on as the global manufacturing market is trailing behind in the engagement of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, as more than 70 per cent of companies have not made considerable progression.
As another form of technological innovation, 3D printing or additive manufacturing can be momentarily engaged to ease the pressure on supply chains amid fluctuations in demand, as demonstrated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last year’s supply chain turbulence forced numerous companies to drastically relook their manufacturing and design tactics.