3D printing is the new-age manufacturing technology. It is here to stay and will only get more and more mainstream. This makes it a vital technology to be studied and learnt. This article talks about additive manufacturing for starters and what they should know to begin with.
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is the three-dimensional manufacturing of objects from CAD models in an additive process where materials are deposited in layers. It therefore is sometimes also called as Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM).
How Does AM Work?
Additive manufacturing is a rather young industrial technology but has already replaced more tedious ways of creating three-dimensional objects – like casting. To create precise objects, computer-aided design (CAD) is needed – like in so many other fields of the industry. It’s also possible to use 3D object scanners to gather all necessary information about geometric shapes.
As soon as all important parameters are known, the object can be built layer by layer. The biggest advantage in comparison to other types of manufacturing processes: Once the print is done, no surplus material needs to be removed in complex machining processes. That’s why AM saves a lot of time and money.
Types of AM Technologies
Different technologies can be used for building objects in AM, binder jetting being the most popular one: powdered material and a binder are deposited by jets moving on x, y, and z axes. The direct energy position offers a broader variety of use, as it works with polymer, ceramics, and metals.
While the machine bed moves vertically, a laser or beam gun melts the wire, feedstock, or powder to create layers. Even though direct energy position seems fairly easy with the right machines and tools, the temperature can be crucial and ruin any object. It’s important to ensure a certain temperature to keep the material from contracting and expanding. Of course, industrial buildings should be air-conditioned to avoid temperature changes. Then again, processes, where the material is melted, need extra attention.
To safeguard the systems chillers like HYFRA industrial chillers are needed to ensure reliable performance of the printers. Because these chillers are very compact, they can be integrated into any possible production layout. To many decision-makers, industrial cooling is an invidious topic. That’s mainly because cooling and heating eat up a lot of energy. But sloppy precautions can cause material rejection, rework, and – of course – additional costs.
How long does AM take?
When we talk about additive manufacturing for starters, one frequently asked question is how long does AM take to build an object? Well, there is no universal answer to this question because it’s just like with other technologies in the industrial sector: There are various factors that have an impact on the production duration. In the case of ALM, the most important factors are speed, resolution, quality, size, and volume. Depending on what kind of object is being manufactured, the process can take a few minutes, hours, or even days.
Materials for AM
Additive manufacturing can be used with various materials such as ceramics, plastics, metals, and biochemicals. When it comes to biochemicals, objects are usually produced for healthcare applications. The Metal AM materials include calcium phosphate, zinc, and silicon. Scientists explore bio-inks made from stem cells as a possible alternative.
Ceramics are used for glass products. AM bakes together materials like powdered glass, zirconia, or alumina with adhesives and creates sturdy yet precise objects.
AM with metals helps create not only jewellery but also aerospace components. The range of possible metals is wide. It reaches from precious metals like silver and gold to stainless steel and titanium. The material that is possibly used the most in AM technology is thermoplastics.
Additive Manufacturing for Starters
Even though AM hasn’t been around for long, it is already used in different fields. For beginners, it is difficult to find the best learning material or courses to get certified in the technology. A multitude of 3D printing courses are available, both online and offline, which are curated as per the student – school kid, university student or educators.
As of now, AM is used in sectors like aerospace, healthcare, automotive, tooling, jewellery, etc. industries.
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