What obstacles are in additive’s way?

Industry leaders discuss biggest obstacles facing the additive manufacturing space.

Mark Konig Ec Gv8s2 Ipg0 Unsplash

As the first two parts of this virtual roundtable discussed, 2020 was a milestone year for additive manufacturing and the industry has a solid future ahead. Of course, part of ensuring that the anticipated future becomes a reality rests with understanding the biggest challenges they will face along the way.

Read on to hear what industry leaders identify as the biggest remaining obstacles.

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How LFAM will make GE’s Haliade-X record turbines even more powerful

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.

Haliade-X

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.

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Wärtsilä WHAM prepares to 3D print critical engine parts

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.”

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CNC Machining as a business strategy for 3D Printing

As the additive manufacturing company 3rd Dimension Industrial 3D Printing prepares for production, it has one critical advantage over the competition: a standalone CNC machine shop.

In 2013, additive manufacturing (AM) was having its moment. The possibilities of the technology for industrial production were just then becoming apparent to manufacturing at large. Indeed, at that time, the view of AM was soaring from lofty media hype into a stratosphere of impossible promises. Bob Markley was having a moment of his own at that time. He had just finished a 10-year stretch as an engineer for an Indy 500 racing team before moving on to work for Rolls Royce and then General Motors, the latter of which was consolidating its Indiana workforce to Pontiac, Michigan. Unable to relocate his family from their Indiana home, the then-31-year-old Mr. Markley wrote up a business plan centered around AM — a technology he’d barely used, but one that appealed to the experimental engineering style he’d developed through racing.

Machined metal part

Thus, 2013 proved to be the year that Mr. Markley went all-in on AM, launching 3rd Dimension Industrial 3D Printing in a 1,800-square-foot facility outside of Indianapolis. After opening for business, he quickly partnered with 3D Systems and brought in the company’s ProX 200 — a laser powder-bed fusion machine he still refers to today as his workhorse. Sustained financially by his original loan and a small but growing base of customers, Mr. Markley purchased a second ProX 200, followed by a 300 model and later a 320 that he beta tested for the company.

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Fighting tradition when implementing 3D metal printing

In a recent webinar, Chris Billings, the co-founder of Duncan Machine Products (DMP), which is a partner with my company, shared a parable that cut straight to a hurdle faced by people in their everyday lives and teams within businesses, both small and large. The story gives body to a nebulous force that holds us back, keeps us from advancing and dooms us to achieve the same results.

oil pumps at sunset,  industrial oil pumps equipment.

The often unrecognized force is a strong headwind at best, and a brick wall at worst, when change offers advantages. In simple terms, this obstacle is tradition.

Chris shared the “Grandma’s Ham” story to illustrate the paradigm he instills in his precision machine shop. Paraphrasing Zig Ziglar’s words from his book See You at the Top, Chris illustrated the human aspect of the challenge to change, to innovate, to do things differently.

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Eriks meeting food safety regulations with Ultimaker S5 3D Printers

Award-winning desktop 3D printer provider Ultimaker has announced that ERIKS, an international industrial equipment supplier, has scaled up its 3D printing capabilities for OEM and MRO customers using Ultimaker 3D printers. 

Ultimaker S5 3D printers at ERIKS' facility. Photo via Ultimaker.

At its production facilities in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, ERIKS has installed multiple Ultimaker S5 Pro 3D printer bundles. Leveraging the systems, the company has provided its customers with support in identifying, designing and printing applications. With a focus on co-engineering, the company has been able to 3D print parts alongside its customers according to specific industry standards, especially in regards to food safety and cleanliness.

Such a process, Ultimaker claims, has made it easier for professionals working in MRO and OEM industries to adopt 3D printing technology. Jos Burger, CEO at Ultimaker, explains: “As shown in the 3D Printing Sentiment Index, only 35 percent of companies have adopted additive manufacturing, while in many industries worldwide margins are currently under high pressure. Efficiency is key to bring a competitive edge and 3D printing plays a major role in this, as ERIKS experienced first-hand with achieving their impressive cost-and time savings.”

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Startup’s Copper 3D-Printing Breakthrough Could Cut Costs for EV Parts

Markforged, a startup manufacturer of metal and carbon fiber 3D printers, announced earlier this month what it calls the only reliable, affordable, and safe way to 3D print copper. For the company’s Metal X system — a patented platform that rapidly prints 3D metal — pure copper has been added as the latest metal to join its lineup of materials that include aerospace superalloys like Inconel 625, 17-4 PH stainless steel, H13 tool steel, D2 tool steel, and A2 tool steel.

Copper 3D printing.

Founded in 2013 in Watertown, Massachusetts, Markforged said 3D printing copper parts on-demand will drive new manufacturing and supply chain efficiencies for customers — leading to reduced lead times and part costs, as well as eliminating the need for costly inventory. Now with copper capabilities, the company said using the Metal X provides an easy and fast way to produce geometrically complex copper with high electrical and thermal conductivity.

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100 3D printing experts predict the future of 3D printing in 2030

3D Printing Industry asked 100 additive manufacturing leaders to identify how 3D printing will develop during the next ten years. In our article last week, we took a look at the near term trends in 3D printing to watch for 2020. This new article draws on insights from additive manufacturing experts across the globe to understand where our industry is heading.

Will AM herald the disruption of manufacturing as we know it? While major change is likely to be slow, with this longer time horizon, it may be useful to consider the role of governments in supporting new industries.

Trade-technology tensions persist, as do developments around export controls  – specifically the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security’s proposed rules around Additive Manufacturing Equipment for “Energetic Materials”.

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How major automakers use AM for production today, part 5: BMW additive manufacturing

During this month’s AM Focus Automotive, we are mapping out the most accurate and up to date scenario for automotive additive manufacturing in final part production. We present an analysis of the latest progress made by each major automaker group and some of the key activities—either publicly disclosed or confirmed by reliable sources. Here’s a look at BMW additive manufacturing. In the previous episodes, we looked at VolkswagenGeneral MotorsDaimler Benz and Ford. Still upcopming: PSA, FCA and JLR.

BMW Vision iNext

Since “coming out” officially as a major AM adopter in 2016, BMW Group continued to announce major initiatives in AM for part production. They were consolidated in the Additive Manufacturing Campus, located in Oberschleissheim, just north of Munich. BMW is known to also rely on external AM parts providers for SLS and SLA (Figure 4) parts production, such as 3D Systems’ On Demand Advanced AM Center near Turin, in Northern Italy.

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Price, Performance, Potential – Closing the gap in 3D printing

MakerBot, a global leader in the 3D printing industry, can be seen within the rapid prototyping processes of several industry powerhouses, such as Lockheed Martin and KUKA Robotics. Recently, MakerBot’s experts became concerned by the disparity between desktop and industrial solutions, and the impact this was having on the adoption of 3D printing. In this feature, Dave Veisz, VP of Engineering at MakerBot, discusses this technology gap and what the industry is doing to overcome it.

Rapid prototyping is a staple of every designer and engineer’s workflow—essential for testing new concepts, verifying designs, and meeting increasingly aggressive time-to-market goals. Regardless of the industry or product, all engineers must consider the speed, accessibility, cost, and output of these additive manufacturing equipment. Additive manufacturing technology, in its many forms, has been synonymous with rapid prototyping, and its prevalence has only increased as the technologies have improved.

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