Additive manufacturing has come to the forefront of the Army’s attention as the service looks for ways to quickly reproduce parts without needing to continuously rely on industry.
In 2019, the service released a new policy directive that outlined its goals to expand its 3D printing processes and established an additive manufacturing center of excellence at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.
Maj. Gen. K. Todd Royar, commanding general of Army Aviation and Missile Command, said on the aviation side, he has been using the directive as a baseline for the command’s 3D printing efforts and then incorporating additional standards to ensure that it can meet Federal Aviation Administration regulations as well.
Whether it’s spoilage, delivery timetables, quality control or cyberattacks, successful supply chains can only support patients and customers if they are resilient.
3D printing to the rescue. COVID-19 gave the world a glimpse of how 3D printing can be used temporarily to alleviate the strain on supply chains during demand surges and shortages as it did with medical equipment. Inventors are combining 3D printing with traditional processes creating unique combinations of parts that perform better with lower cost that can be manufactured closer to the customer, all while being more sustainable.
Whilst the process might not be ready to mass produce items just yet, there’s still plenty of room for testing. The latest Porsche-printed item, then, is a complete housing for an electric drive unit.
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Bear with us though, because Porsche has found that using this additive manufacturing process allows the honeycomb-like aluminium housing to be 100 per cent stiffer, 10 per cent lighter and still more compact than a conventionally cast part. Impressive.
Norsk Titanium delivered new Boeing 787 Dreamliner components to Leonardo’s Grottaglie Plant, based in South Italy and part of Leonardo’s Aerostructures Division. Norsk is a Norwegian-American firm providing additive manufacturing of aerospace-grade titanium components (using proprietary RPD technology).
This delivery adds a third production customer to Norsk’s growing commercial aerostructures customer base and represents Norsk’s first recurring production order from a European Union based Aerospace company.
“We are pleased to be Leonardo’s supplier,” said Karl Fossum, director of customer programs for Norsk. “This delivery marks a significant increase in the number of additively manufactured parts previously manufactured from titanium plate. It also is an important step towards our mission to provide an alternative to titanium forgings in aerospace applications.”
With blade diameter measuring more than two football fields, GE Renewables’ Haliade-X turbines are already the largest and most powerful in the world, capable of generating as much as 14 MW of energy. The ability to 3D print the turbine’s concrete base on-site, for direct transportation into the final at-sea location, will enable even larger systems to be built and deployed.
This approach is expected to enable the production of much taller wind turbines because turbine producers will not be hindered by transport limitations—today, the width of the base cannot exceed 4.5 meters for transportation reasons, which limits the height of the turbine. By increasing the height, the generation of power per turbine can also be increased substantially: for instance, a 5 MW turbine measuring 80 meters generates about 15.1 GWh a year. The same turbine measuring 160 meters would generate 20.2 GWh per year, an increase of 33%. How that scale is expected to become even greater, with new turbines reaching heights of 260 meters and even more.
What was the last thing you printed? While for many of us it’s likely to be a work document or a pile of handouts, the research engineers at the Wärtsilä Hub for Additive Manufacturing (WHAM) has moved into another dimension – printing critical engine components and leading the way in 3D printing utilisation.
3D printing, the more well-known name for the additive manufacturing process, promises to revolutionise component production. It is already being used in industries as diverse as aerospace and healthcare and is a key element of the on-demand economy, where components are manufactured only when needed, reducing warehousing costs and cutting down delivery times. It can also make manufacturing easier, cheaper and faster, opening up the opportunity to produce components on-site, eliminating the need for transportation and therefore reducing transport-based emissions.
General Motors announced the opening of the 15,000-square-foot Additive Industrialization Center, dedicated to productionizing 3D printing technology in the automotive industry.
General Motors recently opened its new, 15,000-square-foot Additive Industrialization Center (AIC), dedicated to 3D printing technology in the automotive industry. The AIC is the capstone of GM’s expertise and increased investment in 3D printing over the last several years.
“The core component of GM’s transformation is becoming a more agile, innovative company, and 3D printing will play a critical role in that mission,” says Audley Brown, GM director of additive design and materials engineering. “Compared to traditional processes, 3D printing can produce parts in a matter of days versus weeks or months, at a significantly lower cost.”
WHAM, the Wärtsilä Hub for Additive Manufacturing, is now using 3D printing to create a critical metal component for Wärtsilä engines that has been successfully tested at full output. Work has been done in partnership with global engineering company Etteplan, and the success of the testing clearly demonstrates that 3D printing is ready for a wider range of applications in the marine industry.
“We were confident enough to put the part in the engine and the results spoke for themselves – the engine always tells the truth,” said Andreas Hjort, General Manager, Smart Design. “The design freedom of 3D printing is opening up a number of opportunities to add value, in terms of both new products and improving the performance of existing ones.”
One of struggle, one of anguish, one of a technology that may have previously failed to live up to such lofty promise, perhaps now finding its role in the manufacturing landscape.
Though there were plenty of businesses in the 3D printing industry that had significant issues to encounter – GE in its AM-related goodwill impairment charges or Stratasys and 3D Systems in their workforce reductions – the technology itself comes out of 2020 with an enhanced reputation.
It was responsible for millions of parts produced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to alleviate slightly the pressure that medical professionals and procurement personnel were under, while allowing manufacturers to pivot from what they typically produced to what, in that moment, we needed them to.
Thyssenkrupp and Wilhelmsen are collaborating on leveraging on thyssenkrupp’s deep expertise in AM alongside Wilhelmsen’s in-depth maritime expertise and direct ongoing experience in understanding the needs of vessel fleet managers.
Based on current data, maritime fleets spend approximately $13 billion a year on spare parts. With 50% of these vessels being older than 15 years, the availability of parts are limited. This makes the fulfillment of orders for maritime spare parts costly and complicated, and in fact, supply chain overheads involved may oftentimes far outstrip the cost of the part itself.