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.
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.”
It’s been quite a year.
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.
After forming a collaboration to deliver maritime spare parts using 3D printing, thyssenkrupp and Wilhelmsen have onboarded Yinson to their 3D Printing customer program. Services provided will include solving pain points such as long lead time, part obsolescence and poor part performance.
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.
PostNord, Stockholm, Sweden, the largest logistics company in the Nordics and a subsidiary of PostNord Strålfor Group. The digital inventory provides communication and logistics solutions to optimise Additive Manufacturing for the medical market.
PostNord’s continued expansion into AM is driving the need for an integrated offering within the medical market. Key enablers delivered to PostNord by Link3D as part of the deployment include a secure platform for physicians to move seamlessly from X-ray to part order, improving delivery speed, and integration with an industry-leading e-commerce platform that provides an end-to-end customer experience, from order requesting to delivery.
The deployment with PostNord is the latest expansion into a new market, with increasing numbers of potential customers beginning to see the need for an operating system that enables them utilise Additive Manufacturing across a variety of use cases. Link3D is offering a solution to this new problem, having already deployed solutions across aerospace, medical and contract manufacturing sectors.
Instead of sourcing components from single suppliers, manufacturers are starting to look for smaller orders from a range of suppliers to guard against the supply chain disruptions seen during the pandemic.
Slimane Allab, senior vice president and general manager, EMEA of supply chain tech company LLamasoft said, “Short run manufacturing is effectively bridging the gap between product prototyping and full-scale manufacturing plans.
Recently on the 3DPod, we discussed supply chain resilience with HP’s Ramon Pastor. He mentioned that he believes that cost-driven supply chains are a thing of the past. He said that, previously, companies thought that, if they had two suppliers for a part or factories in different countries, this was enough to ensure resilience.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all learned that this is not enough. A genuinely global crisis has meant that both of a company’s supplier factories separated by oceans can be closed by the same event. What’s more, local events like a gigantic port fire in Dalian or a longshoreman strike in California can have knock-on effects that reverberate throughout the globe. At the same time, Pastor contended that we may have just experienced an unprecedented period of stability that may, in fact, be ending, bringing more geopolitical risk.
Optomec has recorded more than 10 million turbine blade refurbishments with its metal 3D printing technology after conducting a recent customer survey.
The company says it now has more than 100 customer installations of its metal 3D printing systems specifically for gas turbine components repair, with installations made at leading gas turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEM) in the aviation and energy markets, such as GE, as well as many third-party maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) shops.
At these companies, Optomec has installed its LENS brand Metal Additive 3D printers and Huffman brand 5-axis Laser Cladders, both based on Directed Energy Deposition (DED) technology. Customers are said to value Optomec’s proficiencies in adaptvie control software, controlled inert atmosphere processing for superior metallurgy, turn-key repair process recipes and automation solutions that facilitate higher throughput batch processing.
The 3D printing technology also served as an alternative and more efficient manufacturing option to keep up with the demand for nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs.
Amid worldwide disruptions in supply chains due to Covid-19 restrictions, the 3D printing technology has enabled on-demand solutions for needs ranging from personal protection equipment to medical devices and isolation wards, say researchers.
The researchers examined how the digital versatility and quick prototyping of 3D printing has enabled the rapid mobilisation of the technology and a swift response to emergencies in a closed loop economy.