EDUCATION

3D Printing Technology in Manufacturing: Good or Bad?

3D Printing Technology in Manufacturing
Above: 3D printing increases production efficiency and accelerates time to market/Image Source:Tom Claes

Companies in the aerospace, automotive, defence, consumer goods, medical and other industries are adopting digital manufacturing tools, taking a step towards Industry 4.0. 3D printing is a catalyst for increasing the efficiency of a range of employees – from technologist to mechanic and provides the company with the tools to reduce the supply chain, increase production efficiency and accelerate time to market, which can save hundreds of thousands of dollars and reduce time spent on weeks, otherwise and months.

Companies in the aerospace, automotive, defence, consumer goods, medical, and other industries are embracing digital manufacturing tools, ushering in Industry 4.0. 3D printing provides the company with the tools to reduce the supply chain, increase production efficiency, and accelerate time to market, which can save hundreds of thousands of dollars and time spent on weeks, otherwise, and months. It is also a catalyst for increasing the efficiency of a wide range of employees, from operators to managerial employees.

Additive manufacturing today has evolved into a legitimate manufacturing technology with a wide range of technologies/processes suitable to a large stream of materials. This gives the industry a productive approach, new design flexibility, and dramatically reduce energy use.

On an industrial level, Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) is the preferred powder metal 3D printing technology where a laser is used to melt powder particles to form a product, layer by layer.

Direct Metal Laser Sintering – DMLS

Metal 3D Printing Centre
Above: EOS M 400 system for additive manufacturing in the Metal 3D Printing Centre at Audi in Ingolstadt/Image Source: Audi AG

The principle of direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) is a prototyping and tooling process where the pure shape of a part is produced in a single process. Complex parts can be produced directly from 3D CAD models in layers. The solidification of the layers of the metal powder in the parts of the layer corresponds to the cross-section of the three-dimensional part in the corresponding layer. The basic principle of DMLS technology is to melt layers (20 – 60 microns) of metal powder with a controlled laser beam (200 W). The important parts of the DMLS machine are the construction platform, dispenser, recoating unit, laser system, precision optics such as “Ftheta” lens or varioscan. The metal powder is stored in the dispenser and the back layer is used to coat the metal powder with a uniform layer thickness on the steel base of the “tray”.

Applying these technologies requires a high-professional team of engineers who are aware of all peculiarities of these technologies. Engineering manufacturing solutions at Engre can come in handy in this case: the professional team of workers could come up with any solution required for your business as well as provide high-quality services to support your manufacturing. The question of hiring world-class engineers has been solved.

Advantages of using 3D Printing Technology

Additive technologies are becoming widespread in our lives, since

  • allow obtaining a product with a significantly reduced cost in comparison with the manufacture of a similar product by traditional technological methods;
  • make it possible to make significant changes and additions to the design of the product, which satisfy the needs of the customer in a fairly wide range;
  • have a minimum technological cycle;
  • provide for automated control of the manufacturing operation;
  • require minimal production time.

Mitigating Problems of 3D Printing Implementation

Product Size: A company cannot get a solid metal product, for example, several meters wide. But this task is solvable – now there are pilot samples of equipment that can cope with this task.

Cost of 3D Printing: The cost of the 3D printed product remains higher for mass production than the traditional technologies like injection moulding.

Print Quality: Just a couple of years ago, the issue of print quality was on the agenda, but the technology has made such a step forward that it is rare to find an unscrupulous manufacturer.

Print Speed: Depending on the size and complexity of the geometry of the product, its production takes from an hour to tens of hours. The problem can be solved – and not only by the development of technologies: now large companies with dozens of printers at their disposal are levelling the slow pace with the number of production lines. But small manufacturers with 5-6 printers, if there are orders, are forced to work day and night.

Application of Additive Technologies in Business

The business has three key markers, according to the presence of which the leader decides on the advisability of transforming supply chains using additives.

  • Innovation: If you specialize in the release of a science-intensive product with the obligatory presence of several pilot versions, then 3D printing is for you. Prototyping is one of the most common services in 3D printing. The business gets the opportunity to experiment with the shape and design of the final product by adjusting the parameters right on the computer screen. Even industrial giants use this opportunity: designing passenger cars for Egyptian Railways, TMH holding used additive technologies.
  • Economy: As 3D printing eliminates the need for tools, cost reduction is a key advantage of the 3D printing technology.
  • Course towards Sustainable Development: The world is moving towards building a sustainable economy and lifestyle. The focus is on reducing the carbon footprint and achieving Sustainable Development goals. The companies that operate in line with these goals are getting $45 trillion in financial approval from global investors. It is a well-known fact that the carbon footprint of a business is accounted for by emissions from the operation of logistics chains (up to 80%), and not by direct CO2 emissions from the plant’s pipe. 3D printing reduces delivery times by 24 times: there are additive manufacturing sites in every major city. 3D printing technologies are becoming a tool for real de-carbonisation.

About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing. which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Visit our 3D Printing Education page to read more such informative articles. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn.