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.
In a presentation at Virtual Engineering Days, Joe Cretella, applications engineering manager at ProtoLabs, offered technical examples about how multijet fusion (MJF) can best be used, while Brent Ewald, solutions architect from HP, talked about developing strategies for using MJF and encouraged companies to think about how the technology can complement their more traditional manufacturing efforts.
Cretella began by noting that the ideal applications for multijet fusion can include prototypes and end-use parts; complex geometries requiring hinging or light weighting, high strength, and temperature resistance; jigs and fixtures, brackets, clips; and component housings.
He cited a recent case study that ProtoLabs did with a university in France and its German counterparts to produce reusable face shield. Cretella said they were able to optimize the design so that it could be printed as a single component. “So it could fit a large number of those face shields into a single build,” he explained. “And that’s really going to be key on thinking about designs, especially as we’re getting into talking about the parts, we want to be able to fit a high volume.”
Replique, a venture born out of chemical company BASF’s business incubator Chemovator, has partnered with German home appliance manufacturer Miele to produce and ship 3D printed accessories via its decentralized production network.
Through the partnership, Replique’s 3D printing platform will be integrated into Miele’s online shop to enable the company to provide its customers with new 3D printed accessories and spare parts both quickly and cost-effectively.
The partners are supposedly the first to implement a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for the 3D printing of polymer parts for food contact applications, beginning with an initial three accessories – a coffee clip, borehole cleaner, and a valuable separator for vacuum cleaner attachments.
Alstom, a France-based rolling stock manufacturer, has adopted FDM 3D printing technology from Stratasys to streamline spare part production for the transport sector.
One of the company’s most recent projects involved producing a set of emergency spare parts for Algeria’s Sétif Tramways, and additive manufacturing was the star of the show. Leveraging Stratasys F370 3D printers, Alstom was able to drastically slash lead times and save Sétif Tramways thousands in manufacturing costs, reducing downtime in the city’s 14-mile transport network.
“The agility that 3D printing gives us is critical for Alstom strategically as a business,” states Aurélien Fussel, Additive Manufacturing Programme Manager at Alstom. “Where our customers depend on spare parts to maintain operations, having this in-house production capability means we can bypass our traditional supply chain and respond quickly and cost-effectively with a solution to their needs.”
Defense and aerospace uses for additive manufacturing range from quick prototyping to spare parts logistics support at sea and in other remote locations.
Even within heavy industries, people often speak of 3D printing in terms of science fiction. With the allure of creating something from nothing, it has been poised to revolutionize prototyping, manufacturing, and resupplying for decades. However, additive manufacturing — another name for 3D printing — also is a reality here and now.
Numerous 3D printing companies offer ready-made menus of different materials and techniques. Some experts say it’s still the way of the future, while others say no one process (or array of sub-processes) can do all the things 3D printing promises to do. So which is it: practical or over-promised?
It is difficult to overstate the challenges faced by global supply chains in the last year-and-a-half. The Covid-19 pandemic, new post-Brexit trade rules and the Suez Canal blockage all played a part in delaying or restricting deliveries, creating bottlenecks and shortages of parts.
Thankfully, says Yann Rageul, the challenges have also encouraged companies to consider new ways of working – and 3D printing could be an ideal candidate for overcoming further disruption.
We spoke to the Stratasys head of manufacturing in the EMEA and APAC regions ahead of his 19 July session on the topic, at our free Engineering Futures webinar series.
While additive manufacturing has long been a part of consumer product development, it has massive potential for innovation in product manufacturing.
However, it’s one thing to talk about its potential. It’s quite another to establish efficient, scalable AM operations that bring value both for customers and the company’s bottom line.
This article will dive into the challenges to efficient AM workflow and highlight the solutions to help set AM operations up for success.