New Pentagon policy to accelerate use of 3D printing amid fresh cyber concerns

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.

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The 3 transformative trends powering manufacturing now

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.

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ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING

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.

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Military starts to run with 3D printing and additive manufacturing

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.

U.S. Marine Corps technicians discuss the process of producing mask frames and face shields for use in the fight against COVID-19.

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?

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Engineering Futures: How 3D printing at scale can overcome modern supply chain challenges

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.

The Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit-related trade delays and the Suez Canal blockage have all disrupted global supply chains in the last year – but 3D printing can help, says Yann Rageul (Credit: Shutterstock)

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.  

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How can consumer goods brands transform their additive manufacturing operations?

While additive manufacturing has long been a part of consumer product development, it has massive potential for innovation in product manufacturing. 

additive manufacturing in the consumer goods sector

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. 

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GE Aviation moves production of four land/marine turbine parts from casting to metal additive manufacturing

GE Aviation has projected cost savings of 35% after switching the production of four land/marine turbine bleed air parts from casting to metal 3D printing.

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The aerospace company worked with GE Additive to additively manufacture the four bleed air components, with the cost savings expected to be enough to retire the old casting moulds forever. Harnessing 3D printing, GE Aviation also saw significant time reductions through the conversion process, getting to a final prototype inside ten months, where as it has previously taken between 12 and 18 months when developing turbine parts.

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What if you could condense all your pills into one? With 3D printing, you can

Researchers debut a new technique that proves pills can be designed for individual patients.

The objects are almost beautiful. The surfaces appear faceted and woven, catching the light like ornate jewelry. But they are not jewelry. They are pills, and possibly the most high-tech pills ever designed, in fact. These tablets are artisanal, tuned for just one person, to release a small medicine cabinet of different drugs at the right time.

Developed by researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA), these pills are produced by a breakthrough in 3D printing. Today, that printing is done in a lab. Tomorrow, scientists suggest, the work might be done by a pharmacist, hospital, or almost any entity other than separate pharmaceutical companies, each of which currently churns out millions of doses of the same drugs in one-size-fits-all pill formats.

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Shapeways’ Digital Manufacturing boosts supply chain resiliency

Shapeways, a leader in powering digital manufacturing, continues to disrupt the traditional manufacturing market through end-to-end digitization and automated workflows that lower manufacturing barriers, alleviate critical supply chain bottlenecks and speed delivery of quality products worldwide. The company’s purpose-built software, proven production capabilities and global network of certified printer, materials and manufacturing partners are transforming manufacturing while boosting supply chain resiliency.

Shapeways’ Digital Manufacturing Boosts Supply Chain Resiliency

“Global supply chains continue to face massive disruptions caused by unforeseen events—from a traffic jam at the Suez Canal to a year-long pandemic that upended sourcing, procurement and production,” said Miko Levy, chief revenue officer of Shapeways. “Digital manufacturing is the key to meeting escalating demands for supply chain resilience with unprecedented agility and flexibility.”

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Ultimaker study suggests COVID-19 increased worldwide 3D printing adoption

Ultimaker has released its 2021 3D Printing Sentiment Index (3DPSI), showing that awareness and adoption of 3D printing went up during 2020, and that companies used it in a more integrated way. While the study doesn’t delve into the reasons behind these developments, Ultimaker anecdotally linked them to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and a disrupted global supply chain.

The 3DPSI covers three broad categories: sentiment, awareness, and adoption. Awareness covers how much people know about 3D printing, sentiment covers whether people feel 3D printing is or will be useful, and adoption covers how much people are already using it at their workplaces.

This year’s 3DPSI was conducted online by independent research firm Savanta in December 2020. It polled 2,525 professionals across diverse fields like healthcare, manufacturing, architecture and education. These professionals came from twelve “key markets” across the world: the US, Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, China, Japan, South Korea and Australia. Both South Korea and Australia were new this year. 

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Ingersoll and Bell 3D printed a 22 foot-long rotor blade mold in 75 hours

Manufacturing system provider Ingersoll Machine Tools has partnered with aviation company Bell to 3D print a 22 foot-long vacuum trim tool – a mold used for the production of helicopter rotor blades.

The vacuum trim tool in its as-printed form. Photo via Ingersoll.

The project, which resulted in major lead time savings, was completed using Ingersoll’s own large-format hybrid MasterPrint system, a gantry-based 3D printer with integrated 5-axis milling functionality. According to Ingersoll, the MasterPrint is the largest polymer 3D printer in the world. Designed specifically for the production of extra-large production parts, the system can be found at Ingersoll’s headquarters in Rockford, IL.

“We are continuously testing and advancing MasterPrint in our Development Center” said Chip Storie, CEO at Ingersoll. “Among Ingersoll’s short-term objectives is for MasterPrint to 3D print molds for aerospace that preserve the geometrical properties and tolerances, vacuum integrity and autoclave resilience normally obtained with traditional technology, but with the cost and time reduction only additive manufacturing can offer. The relentless progress our MasterPrint process has made in 2020 has finally made this target attainable.”

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