United Utilities and ChangeMaker3D have achieved a UK first by building a concrete wastewater chamber using 3D printing.
Over 12-months, ChangeMaker3D worked with United Utilities to design, 3D-print and install a wastewater chamber at one of the utility company’s test facilities in Cheshire. With testing complete, the partners said it proves the potential of so-called ‘printfrastructure’, where 3D printing is used in construction.
According to the partners, ‘printfrastructure’ can deliver a 25 per cent reduction in carbon, 20 per cent in cost savings and a 55 per cent reduction in labour versus traditional methods.
In a statement, Lisa Mansell, United Utilities’ chief engineer (Innovation), said: “We have a huge capital programme to deliver under tight deadlines. Digital technologies such as 3D construction printing can drive efficient construction and help us meet our Net Zero goals for carbon.”
Supply chain disruptions continue to rock the world of manufacturing, presenting real threats to productivity and having a huge impact on the bottom line of many businesses. From semiconductors and medical supply shortages to the surging costs of building materials and consumer goods – logistical issues and fluctuating, unpredictable prices are causing massive disruption to businesses of all types and sizes around the world.
Compounding the problem is the fact that the traditional manufacturing model of build, ship, and receive is no longer fit for purpose in the current climate, which experts agree isn’t going away any time soon. Add to this the well-documented global labour and skills shortages and you have the perfect storm.
The manufacturing industry has established practices for product development, production and supply chain management. Organizations that develop new products carefully follow these well-known processes and rarely take risks. However, new opportunities that arise from additive manufacturing may challenge the way things are done today.
Recent events have highlighted the rigidity of traditional manufacturing and supply chain processes. For instance, the shocking economic gridlock at the port of Los Angeles includes ships unable to unload cargo and shipping containers unable to move to their destinations. Supply chain chaos continues to unfold due to increased consumer demand and widespread warehouse staffing shortages, among other factors, leaving many people waiting for basic goods.
Sakuu, a California-based manufacturing company, has opened its new Silicon Valley engineering hub. The opening advances Sakuu’s plans for a “3D printing platform gigafactory, dubbed Sakuu G-One”.
But how and why would 3D print a battery? I asked Arwed Niestroj’s, Sakuu’s General Manager Battery Business Unit, to answer a few questions.
The new building spans 79,000 square feet and serves as an engineering hub where teams are dedicated to battery, engineering, material science, R&D, and additive manufacturing work. The facility will contain the scaled-up 3D printing operations for battery production and additional manufacturing platforms for medical devices, IoT sensors, and other electrical devices. Sakuu says all manufacturing is conducted in a sustainable manner.
As more companies continue to innovate their product ideas, especially those requiring urgency and customization, 3D printing is poised to transform how game-changing product ideas are brought to life.
Global supply chains continue to face massive disruptions caused by a growing number of unforeseen events—from a traffic jam at the Suez Canal to myriad natural disasters and a more-than-a-year-long pandemic that upended sourcing, procurement and production worldwide.
Through all these unforeseen events, digital manufacturing has stepped to the forefront as an invaluable solution to meeting the escalating demands for supply chain resilience. In particular, localization and customization—as well as innovations in 3D printing materials, technologies and processes—are closing supply chain holes while speeding the delivery of quality products globally.
Below are five ways that digital manufacturing is elevating supply chain resiliency.
The Bundeswehr, which is repeatedly criticized for its poor state of equipment, is now providing spare parts on site as a test Frigate Saxony here. In a test lasting several days on the North Sea, it is to be checked whether machine and equipment parts produced by FDM printing can also be produced in sufficient quality under the special conditions of a warship.
Manufacturing parts using 3D printing, which is already routine in the automotive and railway industries as well as in aerospace (e.g. at Airbus), is much more difficult on ships because of the conditions prevailing there: the salt content of the air and the ship movements as well Vibrations from the drive often have a disruptive effect. On the other hand, using the ships, which are very powerful with more than 53,000 HP, is extremely expensive for the German Armed Forces. Aborting a mission and prematurely returning to the supply of spare parts due to a lack of spare parts would drastically increase this.
The U.S. Navy recently installed its first 3D printer aboard one of its vessels in a program designed to test the capabilities of the technology and its potential contribution to enhancing maintenance aboard active duty vessels. The Navy joins with the commercial shipping industry which has also been looking at the capabilities of 3D printing and tested the first parts for ships made with the technology.
The 3D printing system was recently placed aboard the USS Essex, a Wasp-class Landing Helicopter Dock currently based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Commissioned in 1992, the amphibious assault ship is testing the technology while it is currently participating in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 training exercise.
“Having this printer aboard will essentially accelerate, enhance, and increase our warfighting readiness,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nicolas Batista, the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) officer aboard the Essex. “The capabilities of the 3D printer will enable Essex to become more self-sufficient.”
Australian large-format 3D printer manufacturer AML3D has been contracted to build a massive eight-tonne pressure vessel by oil and gas multinational ExxonMobil.
Having received a $190,000 order from ExxonMobil, AML3D will now utilize its Wire Arc Manufacturing (WAM) facilities to produce the container, in a way that reduces its lead time from 12 months to just 12 weeks. As well as helping its client meet a tight delivery deadline of September 2022, AML3D says the project demonstrates 3D printing’s potential in an oil and gas sector where it’s increasingly gaining traction.
“Signing this deal with ExxonMobil is a further demonstration of delivery against our multi-phase growth strategy,” said Andrew Sales, MD of AML3D. “We have a major focus on building our capability and presence in the global oil and gas sector as an immediate value driver for the business and this contract absolutely aligns with that objective.”
Alstom, a France-based rolling stock manufacturer, has begun using Replique’s on-demand 3D printing services for its industrial series production applications.
The firm has chosen to digitize a portion of its supply chain, citing manufacturing flexibility, shorter lead times, and lower costs as primary factors for the decision. With help from Replique, Alstom can produce small batches of metal components for its trains in a decentralized manner, enabling the firm to better address the local needs of clients worldwide.
Leveraging the recent partnership, Alstom has already received and installed its first set of visible 3D printed train parts: door stoppers made of stainless steel.
Anglo American has launched a 3D printing project in South Africa focused on using the technology to manufacture spare parts for mining and processing equipment locally.
The company and its partners on the project, South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and US-based technology company, Ivaldi Group, are initially exploring the creation of a “digitally distributed supply chain”.
This involves a digitalisation of the designs of parts such as impellers for pumps, shaft sleeves, gasket bonnet valves, and mining rock drill bits, with a view towards locally producing and testing these parts at Anglo American’s operations in South Africa using 3D printers.
Anglo said the project would have environmental and community outreach benefits.
“The ability to send files – not physical spare parts – will reduce our carbon footprint, delivery lead times and logistics costs,” said Matthew Chadwick, head of socio-economic development and partnerships.