nTopology helps organisations unlock the full potential of additive manufacturing by building the next generation of engineering design tools
Amid supply chain disruptions, economic uncertainty, and decarbonisation initiatives, industrial hardware companies increasingly rely on digital technologies to adapt.
One such digital technology, additive manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3D printing, is vital in developing the next generation of advanced industrial products, enabling engineers to produce parts with complex geometry and better performance, accelerating the product development process and simplifying supply chains.
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.
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.
DAIMLER BUSES in Europe has expanded its commercial 3D printing and is offering a new product and service portfolio in the field of additive manufacturing, it has announced.
The aim is to support customers of other industries when procuring and providing parts, and to facilitate the digital transformation of their companies, Daimler says.
Daimler’s Center of Competence 3D-Printing at Daimler Buses is now offering 3D printing as well as various consulting services, data preparation, digital warehousing and individual component production.
How 3D printing can help reduce risk and guard against supply chain turmoil.
There’s always risk in the supply chain. Disruption from machine failure and environmental and geopolitical factors create delays that cause a ripple effect through the supply chain and ultimately affect consumers. The pandemic ushered in a new level of turmoil, risks, and challenges, from the Suez Canal obstruction and labor shortages to lockdowns and material scarcities.
Broken machinery can leave manufacturers waiting for a replacement part for days or even weeks. Manufacturers must choose between paying for a rushed order to receive replacement parts, purchasing materials at a premium, or suffering through excessive downtime. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, supply chain challenges render manufacturers unable to move production forward predictably or without incurring higher costs to attain materials on time.
Multinational printing firm HP has made several announcements in the lead-up to this year’s Formnext trade show, the first of which concerns a new partnership with cosmetics giant L’Oréal.
Together, the two companies are seeking to enable more flexible cosmetics production and explore “entirely new” cosmetics packaging and applications. HP also announced the expansion of its Digital Manufacturing Network (DMN) of parts providers in order to accelerate the shift towards mass production, while the momentum of its Metal Jet 3D printing platform is continuing in advance of its commercial availability in 2022.
“3D printing is unlocking new levels of personalization, business resiliency, sustainability, and market disruption,” said Didier Deltort, President of Personalization & 3D Printing at HP. “HP is excited to reconvene with the additive manufacturing community at Formnext.”
The world depends upon disruptive technology, including big data analytics, IoT, cloud computing, etc. These technologies have a great impact all around, and the future of the supply chain depends upon such advanced technology.
Similarly, an advanced technology, i.e. 3D printing, is shaping the supply chain. According to reports, the use of 3D printers is gradually increasing.
Getting spare parts where they need to go in a quick, reliable way is a logistical challenge for military and industrial supply chains. Researchers from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and North Carolina State University have developed a computational model to help determine how best to incorporate additive manufacturing (AM) technologies into these spare parts supply chains.
AM technologies, or “3D printers,” hold tremendous potential for alleviating some of the logistical challenges associated with providing spare parts when and where they are needed. However, AM technologies can be expensive and tricky to transport. They also require personnel who have specialized training. What’s more, spare parts supply chains can be particularly complicated, because there is usually intermittent demand – meaning you likely don’t know when you’ll need to provide a particular part or how many parts might be needed at any point in time.
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.
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.
There is a tremendous opportunity for additive manufacturing to help overcome the semiconductor shortage, and once again, strengthen supply chains.
Global supply chains have felt the impact of the pandemic for quite some time and continue to face challenges navigating the disruption of production lines even as more regions of the world and business centers gradually re-open and bring more personnel back on-site. The biggest challenge that will remain for the foreseeable future is the shortage of semiconductors, and the signs have been there for months.
Last December, Volkswagen said that semiconductor bottlenecks meant it would produce 100,000 fewer cars in the first quarter of 2021, as its parts makers were unable to secure supplies. Nissan, Renault, Daimler and General Motors are also struggling with the shortage, which may lead to production being reduced by as much as 20% per week.