Heraeus AMLOY and Trumpf have started working together on the 3D printing of amorphous metals, also known as metallic glasses, with the aim of establishing the printing of amorphous parts as a standard production method on the shop floor by improving process and cost efficiencies.
Amorphous metals are twice as strong as steel, yet significantly lighter and more elastic. They exhibit isotropic behaviour, which means their material properties remain identical, regardless of the direction in which the 3D printer builds up the workpiece. In addition to creating highly robust parts, 3D printing also gives engineers more freedom in the design process. A number of areas could benefit from 3D printing of amorphous metals. Key examples include parts that are subject to significant stresses and lightweight design in sectors such as aerospace and mechanical engineering. These materials are also an excellent choice for medical devices due to their biocompatibility.
“3D printing of amorphous components in industry is still in its infancy. This new collaboration will help us speed up printing processes and improve surface quality, ultimately cutting costs for customers. This will make the technology more suitable for a wider range of applications, some of which will be completely new,” said Jürgen Wachter, head of the Heraeus AMLOY business unit.
“Amorphous metals hold potential for numerous industries. For example, they can be used in medical devices – one of the most important industries for additive manufacturing. That’s why we believe this collaboration is such a great opportunity to make even more inroads into this key market with our industrial 3D printing systems,” said Klaus Parey, managing director Trumpf Additive Manufacturing.
The new TruPrint 2000 3D printer from Trumpf is the ideal choice for printing amorphous metals from Heraeus AMLOY.
Amorphous metals are formed by cooling molten metal extremely quickly. A 3D printer can then build them into larger, more complex parts—something that other methods are unable to do. This opens the door to new industrial applications for amorphous metals. 3D printing also exploits the considerable potential that amorphous metals hold for lightweight design. A 3D printer only builds structures that actually help a part fulfil its function, so material use and weight are kept to a minimum. For their part, amorphous metals are very light by nature, so the combination of 3D printing and amorphous metals can reduce weight in all sorts of applications. 3D printing makes the production of amorphous parts faster and simpler in a wide range of contexts. The technology enables users to build parts in one piece instead of making components one by one and then assembling them into a finished part.
In this cooperation, Heraeus AMLOY combines its expertise in the production and processing of amorphous metals with Trumpf’s experience in additive manufacturing. Heraeus AMLOY has optimized its amorphous alloys for 3D printing and tailored the material for use with Trumpf’s TruPrint systems. The latest-generation TruPrint 2000 machine is a particularly good choice for printing amorphous metals. The machine is designed in such a way that the excess powder can be prepared in an inert gas environment for the subsequent building process. This protects the powder from any adverse influences. This is a key benefit for amorphous metals because they react so quickly with oxygen. Trumpf has also boosted the productivity of the TruPrint 2000. Two 300-watt lasers scan the machine’s entire build chamber in parallel. Using a laser focal diameter of just 55 micrometers, users can carry out both low and high-volume production of amorphous parts with extremely high surface quality. The “Melt Pool Monitoring” function automatically monitors the quality of the melt pool, so any errors in the process are spotted at an early stage.
Customers that already have a Trumpf 3D printer can now use it to process zirconium-based alloys from Heraeus AMLOY. It is also possible to order 3D-printed amorphous parts directly from Heraeus AMLOY. The two partners are also hoping to make copper- and titanium-based alloys available for 3D printing in the future.
COVID-19 has disrupted every aspect of life, accelerating changes in everything from simple daily tasks to traditional key business models; citizens worldwide are preparing for a new normal. In addition to vast social ramifications, the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility and complicated nature of both manufacturing and supply chains as well as their susceptibility to disruption from disease, political unrest, or natural disaster.
Out of necessity, manufacturers in the new normal will build factories much closer to where critical parts are needed, reduce the human workforce, and rely more on software and efficiency technologies like 3D printing. At the epicentre of this sea of change is Sigma Labs Inc., with its revolutionary patented technology that detects and identifies defects and anomalies in real-time during the 3D printing process of metal, paving the way for scalability and economic efficiency.
Amazon.com Inc. has created a blueprint for consumer supply chain evolution, proving the importance of bringing outputs closer to where they are needed. Microsoft Corp. has turned its software prowess toward 3D printing in a consortium that has created a modern manufacturing 3D printing file format, 3MF. For additive manufacturing, this new format replaces older file formats and eliminates many interoperability issues.
Software behemoth Autodesk Inc. makes a broad range of 3D software tools, essential for rapid prototyping and industrial manufacturing, for almost every industry. Engineering simulation software from ANSYS Inc. allows innovation to flow smoothly through design, testing and into 3D printing manufacturing. Software and technology are becoming increasingly important as the world grapples with how to reinvent social interaction and commerce in the post pandemic era.
3D Metal Printing: The Promise and Challenge
Almost daily news reports attest to the speed, agility, and efficiency of 3D printing to create and deliver desperately needed healthcare equipment and devices. Additive manufacturing (AM) is proving in real time that it speeds production, allows flexibility, and brings new ideas to market quicker at lower cost.
Though 3D printing of plastics and polymers has moved easily into the mainstream, and home printers now sell for under $300, 3D metal printing is proving to be a horse of a different colour. Commercial 3D metal printing is gaining vital importance in the entire global manufacturing sector—yet the efficiency it yields is not without challenges. A myriad of variables from machines to materials create production hurdles in metal additive manufacturing. 3D metal part manufacturing continuously welds 10- to 30-micron layers of powdered metal together with a laser to sculpt a final three-dimensional product. Like something from science fiction, a machine is actually creating the metal of a part while simultaneously forming the shape of the part.
As amazing as this process is, metal additive manufacturers lack any assurance that each newly formed part meets precise specifications in every 10-micron layer of a 3D part. As a result, 3D metal printing manufacturers have been forced to rely on costly and time-consuming post-production inspection techniques such as CT scan inspection—which are effective, but also extremely costly.
To meet the supply chain demands of the new normal, achieve high quality volume yields and slash post-production inspection costs, the quality assurance problem in 3D metal manufacturing requires a solution. Third party in-process quality assurance is critical to the adoption and acceleration of metal AM and imperative to adaptation of the new normal of global manufacturing.
Sigma Labs’ Solution
With its patented PrintRite3D software, Sigma Labs presents a solution to the costly quality-control challenges that impede the volume manufacture of precision 3D metal parts. In doing so, Sigma Lab’s software could easily become indispensable in the global efforts to meet the manufacturing challenges of post COVID. The company’s breakthrough software has the potential to bolster and broaden commercial metal additive manufacturing by enabling for the first time cost-effective, non-destructive quality assurance during the production process. PrintRite3D is the leading technology in identifying and classifying defects and anomalies in-process and allows for errors to be corrected in real-time—even remotely.
From its inception by scientists at Los Alamos, Sigma Labs has led the world in developing software that addresses serious quality assurance issues in metal additive manufacturing and has become the leading provider of in-process, quality assurance software to the commercial 3D metal printing industry. Sigma Labs’ breakthrough software looks to be the missing element to fully enable commercial additive metal manufacturing at scale. The company has rocketed from beta development and third-party validation of efficacy to engaging multiple beta customers with some of the biggest names in industry, to use in prestigious universities and R&D institutes, and now to commercialization in an untapped market estimated at over $2 billion dollars.
Sigma Labs has surrounded its IP portfolio with 34 issued and pending patents both domestically and across the globe. These patents encompass the fundamental technologies underlying Sigma Labs’ melt-pool process control, data analytics, anomaly detection, signature identification and future closed-loop-control of 3D metal printing.
Many believe that Sigma Labs’ PrintRite3D is the singular solution the additive manufacturing industry needs. PrintRite3D integrates inspection, feedback, data collection and critical analysis into a unified platform. Unheard of before in the industry, PrintRite3D uniquely leverages thermal signatures to monitor the quality of each product part in the production process, layer by layer and in real time. This allows operators to correct or stop production of a defective part, even remotely, which results in reduced error rates and higher yields and scalability. This incredibly sophisticated and powerful technology may play a key role in the new normal post-pandemic era.
Confluence of Opportunity and Circumstance
3D printing was already posting an astounding CAGR of nearly 30 percent before the world was beset by this virus, and with the impending shifts in supply chain strategy, it’s hard to imagine that 3D printing won’t expand at even greater rates. Industry 4.0 has been underway, and 3D printing remains at the forefront of the $100 trillion-dollar technological transformation, accelerating the confluence of digital, biological, and physical innovations across the planet. The circumstances of this virus will only expedite industry and societal adoption of these transformations.
Sigma Labs enjoys a significant technological lead with formidable barriers of entry, which effectively impedes any potential competition. The company has established strategic partnerships, surrounded the IP with patents and is laser focused on the opportunity ahead. Interestingly, Sigma Lab’s unique business model accelerates both revenue growth and profitability in direct correlation to the explosive industry growth of additive manufacturing. Sigma Labs’ technology is a critical component in a major disruptive industry and has been validated across all major customer segments.
Sigma Lab’s functionality and coverage of 3D printers as well as the depth and breadth of its market footprint are as yet unmatched in the industry by any other third-party solution. The company has identified an addressable market in 2021–2027 of approximately $2 billion and is well on the way to achieving its strategy and mission statement to accelerate the adoption of AM and become the de facto standard for third-party in-process quality assurance of metal 3D printing.
As suppliers continue to seek ways to improve the efficiency of their supply chains while maintaining a strong bottom line, potentially moving production centres closer to distribution outlets, 3D metal printing’s capability and promise have the potential to resonate with industries of all kinds. Sigma Lab’s revolutionary software could prove crucial to reducing time and cost of product development, qualification, and post-processing quality assurance as factories of the future respond to the challenges of the times.
Business in the New Normal
Amazon has already done much to change the shape of supply chains. Its movement of distribution centres closer to the consumer reflects some of the benefits of 3D printing by producing products closer to where needed. This has allowed Amazon incredible efficiencies, leading to next-day, same-day, and even two-hour delivery of products. Its efficient delivery service has made Amazon a critical resource for many during the COVID-19 crisis.
Software giant Microsoft has extensive experience with supply chain interruption and 3D printing, even before the virus made its presence felt in the United States. Microsoft was hit early on by the effects of the virus in China and the measures needed to control it. Microsoft also invested in the technology several years ago, indicating its confidence in the potential of 3D printing in manufacturing.
Autodesk describes its work as making software for people who make things. The company makes a broad range of 3D software tools for almost every industry, essential for rapid prototyping and industrial manufacturing. Its recent alliance with Aurigo Software provides integrated solutions for the design, manufacture, and production of everything from towering skyscrapers to tiny gadgets. One of six companies creating the Large Additive Subtractive Integrated Modular Machine (LASIMM), one of the world’s largest hybrid manufacturing machines, Autodesk is rapidly bringing 3D printing up to industrial scale across multiple components and sectors.
ANSYS develops multi-physics engineering simulation software for product design, testing and operation. By simulating the performance of products under stress, its software exposes weaknesses in designs, significantly reducing the time and cost involved in bringing production online. Using its products for a complete simulation workflow can help companies move additive metal production from R&D to successful manufacturing operations. Sigma Labs looks to integrate its QA software with ANSYS’s simulation software, to further improve this workflow.
As the world continues to witness the disruption of traditional business models due to the fallout from COVID-19, technological innovations will play an increasingly important role in adjusting to the new normal.
The latest improvements in Siemens Digital Industries Software’s Parasolid can help enable engineers to solve the toughest technical challenges and achieve a clear and growing advantage when implementing 3D printing and scanning based workflows.
Further advances in Convergent Modeling give engineers greater efficiency in workflows that need to mix facet and B-rep geometry, while new functional foundations have been implemented to support lattice structures. Lattices are comprised of repeating networks of nodes and beams and were extremely difficult to manufacture until the advent of 3D printing. Lattices offer increased strength-to-weight ratio compared with solid material, so engineers can design parts with reduced material requirements and mass, while maintaining the required structural integrity.
Additive manufacturing techniques are now bringing the performance benefits of lattice structures into production, driving new requirements for lattice modelling in the design process. Vendors of design and manufacturing software applications that license Parasolid can help deliver the benefits of new lattice modelling functionality to their customers.
The Parasolid geometric modelling kernel is used in Siemens’ own Solid Edge software and NX software and is at the core of the Xcelerator portfolio’s open and flexible ecosystem. Parasolid is also used by over 350 other products including many world-leading CAD/CAM/CAE/AEC software applications.
CNC vertical milling and turning machining centre specialist CHIRON Group has developed the AM Cube, its first 3D metal printer for manufacturing larger, more complex components. Suitable for coating and repairing components, as well as printing near net shape parts, the new printer extends CHIRON’s core competencies to include additive manufacturing, alongside its existing focuses on metal machining and automation. The AM Cube 3D metal printer was one of the product highlights at CHIRON’s OPEN HOUSE ONLINE held last May 14–19.
“The Additive Manufacturing department is a start-up within our own business group,” explained Axel Boi, head of additive manufacturing at CHIRON. “With this 3D metal printer, made by CHIRON, we are creating a facility for manufacturing larger components with long procurement times and high material prices. This technology can be used effectively in the mechanical engineering, tool manufacturing, energy production and aerospace sectors. These are all important target sectors for the CHIRON Group.”
The new AM Cube is based on a conventional cartesian coordinate system, just like a CNC machining centre. Operation and programming of the AM Cube is intuitive. The system is programmed either using a standardised DIN ISO code or, for complex components, using a CAD/CAM software tool. All aspects of the system can be controlled using tried-and-tested Siemens components, from hardware to the HMI through to programming of the AM Cube.
Unlike other 3D metal printers, the print head of the CHIRON AM Cube can be changed during an active printing/ coating process. This option enables the AM Cube to be used to combine different process requirements: For instance, one print head could be used to achieve a high surface quality, and another could be used to achieve a high deposition rate. The automatic head change function enables these properties to be combined in a single workpiece. This is another area where the professionals at CHIRON have put their comprehensive process expertise and many years of experience in using machining centres into practice. Due to the low quantities manufactured using this process, high flexibility is a crucial factor across all industries. The AM Cube is equipped with a total of three print heads. With the AM Cube, wire and powder as deposition material can be applied within a single manufacturing process in different production phases.
Deposition welding with different raw materials
By designing a printer for the two commonly used deposition materials—wire and powder—the machining centre manufacturer has also patented a completely new technology. Both processes have their applications: While coating with powder is the most commonly used process, wire-based laser metal deposition offers better safety characteristics and an impressive reduction in waste material. Wire also has the benefit that every type of welding wire can be used for manufacturing.
The system is designed as a platform and can be reconfigured from 4-axis machining to 5-axis machining with relatively little effort. The AM Cube is equipped with cutting-edge sensors and meets all relevant safety requirements for operation without monitoring by the operator. If the AM Cube is used to machine particularly reactive materials such as titanium, the entire system can be flooded with protective gas to reduce oxidation, enabling manufacturing to be performed under a protective gas atmosphere for several hours.
The Formula Student team from Stuttgart solved the thermal stress issues in electric racers by creating an oil cooling system though additive manufacturing (AM). Article by EOS.
Racers must keep a cool head—and their cars should not overheat either. This applies equally to racing cars with combustion engines and electric motors. The difference: in fuel-fired racers the engine has to be tempered, in electric vehicles this must be considered in particular for the accumulator. The Formula Student team from Stuttgart has solved this task in the truest sense of the word with an additively manufactured oil cooling system and support from EOS.
A complex battery system requires powerful heat dissipation—no big deal thanks to additive manufacturing. (Source: GreenTeam Uni Stuttgart)
A battery—as accumulators are called today—for an electric car has diva-like characteristics. It needs to be treated with caution. This applies not only to mechanical stress, but also to thermal stress: It doesn’t like temperatures that are too high or too low. The reason for this is the behaviour of the electron flow: If it is too cold, the electrons do not migrate fast enough for the maximum power output due to the higher internal resistance. If the temperature is too high, for example if the maximum power output is maintained for a longer period or if the climate is simply hot, there is a risk that membranes will be destroyed or that they will age more rapidly, even to the extent of the so-called thermal runaway.
In order to guarantee an optimum working range, appropriate systems are necessary; liquid-based solutions have the advantage that they can also heat the cells and thus maintain high performance – which is of course of central importance in racing. Oil cooling systems offer very good properties for the battery, but can only be realized with great effort using traditional construction methods: The filled quantity should be kept as low as possible in order to save weight. This also reduces space requirements, which plays a major role not only in tightly cut racing cars.
“In addition, the flow characteristics in the system are important for achieving a high volumetric flow rate,” says Florian Fröhlich from the Stuttgart Formula Student GreenTeam. “Several aspects have to be considered in order to secure an optimum flow velocity, including the expedient design and the lowest possible surface resistance.”
The aim of the racing team was to ensure that a major part of the fluid constantly circulates in the area of the cell flags. Additionally, as oil is quite aggressive, the chosen material must feature a certain level of chemical resistance, while at the same time it must follow the lightweight character of the entire project. High fire resistance is obligatory in racing anyway.
The young racing team set to work with this sporty technical wish list. Simulations on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) resulted in the expedient design of the cooling system, which is made up of flux direction parts and inlet devices. The geometry was optimized in such a way, that a consistent flow is created through the outlets with their compact design and high surface quality. Due to the planned construction geometry and the incorporated hollow structures as well as, of course, the very small number of units, additive manufacturing was the best choice for the production process: The required flow properties would not have been reproducible with traditional methods.
Robert Puschmann of DKSH and Mitchell Beness of HP speak about 3D printing, automation and Industry 4.0. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
Technology advancements have continuously been redefining design and manufacturing processes, production facilities, distribution systems, and global supply chains. As we move toward Industry 4.0, manufacturers recognise that current business models are no longer sustainable, and that the time has come for them to start adopting smarter manufacturing processes and solutions.
One such technology is 3D printing. 3D printing is a ground-breaking and innovative technology that has the potential to bring intermediate changes in manufacturing, society and business. As a crucial medium connecting the virtual and actual world, 3D printing enables the transformation of digital files into tangible objects. According to market analyst firm Inkwood Research, the global 3D printing market is expected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent from 2019 to 2027 and reach a value of US$ 44.39 billion at the end of the forecast period. While North America is the dominating region, Asia Pacific is the fastest growing market for 3D printing.
Mitchell Beness, Category Product Manager Lead for 3D Print and Digital Manufacturing, APJ at HP Inc., says the overall growth in terms of revenue for the industry has been positive, double-digit growth year-on-year, globally, for additive manufacturing or 3D printing. “For us at HP, we see very exciting growth. If you look at the growth of the number of parts that we are producing, this is significant. If you look at the growth of our installed base and powder usage, it is very positive,” he notes. “I think, overall, it is an encouraging story for the industry and for us. Since entering the market, we have seen a lot of people rethinking their decision to move into traditional manufacturing and looking very carefully at what digital manufacturing can offer. I think this change in mindset has been an upward trajectory.”
HP and its partner DKSH Singapore were at the recent Industrial Transformation ASIA PACIFIC (ITAP) 2019 event in Singapore to showcase the latest HP Jet Fusion 580 System, a 3D printer developed specifically for lower volumes as an entry point. The Jet Fusion 580 System is the first of its kind in using a functional material—an engineering grade Nylon polymer—which can incorporate colour within the printer. It is a good example of an all-in-one machine, where it is printing, collecting powder, recycling powder, and redistributing powder, all in one very small unit.
Inkwood Research notes that 3D printing has achieved significant progress from the initial stages of production of simple plastic models to producing useful components, in the fields of surgical implants and prosthetics, batteries, robots, and among many others.
“I think the key area is prototyping, which goes throughout the different industries. We also need to differentiate between replacing and complementing the existing manufacturing process,” explains Robert Puschmann, Managing Director for DKSH Technology Business in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. “If you look at different industries, research is at the forefront. Researchers are looking into how 3D printing can be adopted, which is a very crucial progress because that will help create a new generation of mechanical engineers who are able to design in a totally different way than before. This will be used in more industries over time.”
3D printing or additive manufacturing offers a change in the traditional manufacturing processes, according to Beness. But convincing manufacturers to adopt the technology requires changing their mindset.
“It is an area that Southeast Asia is uniquely positioned to take advantage of considering its relatively young engineers. There are a lot of younger people in these countries, who are able to get access to quality education better than ever before,” he says. “Singapore is an excellent hub for education, and we see partnerships with dynamic clusters, such as Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Many of these types of educational institutions are fundamentally starting that design journey in the engineering space, with additive manufacturing in mind. I think the biggest challenge as well as the biggest opportunity is for people to change the way they design and engineer.”
Apart from the change in mindset, the business case also needs to be there so that people will understand more the benefits of integrating additive manufacturing in their processes.
“Overall, the return on investment (ROI) needs to be understood by the customer,” Puschmann says. “That is something we continuously educate the market with. Also, having a different mindset and knowing to design parts for 3D printing compared to conventional manufacturing are other decisive factors.”
One way of educating the industry is through exhibitions such as ITAP. “The ITAP 2019 exhibition is an educational platform for a lot of people to know that 3D printing exists—I think that’s the first part,” says Puschmann. “On top of that, we conduct test printings with our demo machines to show customers that 3D printing is possible. We also run specific seminars on selected industry focus groups.”
It is also a lot of on-site work, according to Puschmann, where salespeople and applications specialists go from door to door and introduce the new technology and product directly to the customers.
One aspect of Industry 4.0 is the synergy between the physical and cyber-physical world. And 3D printing is in this unique place between the cyber-physical world—which is the data—and the physical world—the output of the 3D printer.
“3D printing takes the digital world and makes it physical,” says Beness. “It has a very important and challenging role because it must address multitudes of data that are potentially for traditional manufacturing, and then try and make that into a physical product using additive technologies. I think that is the best way to describe industrial transformation. 3D printing takes digital files and turns them into physical objects. This is a critical part of Industry 4.0.”
Apart from this, 3D printing also enables distributed manufacturing. “You don’t need to produce all the parts and all the products at one place. Instead, you can distribute based on knowledge and available resources and bring them together,” explains Puschmann. “It’s not only a transformation with regards to new technologies, but also the transformation of existing manufacturing processes and infrastructures themselves.”
Future of Automation
The outlook for Southeast Asia needs to be in the perspective of the different markets in the region, as each is in its different stage of development when it comes to automation. “You have Vietnam becoming a new manufacturing powerhouse probably over the next few years,” says Puschmann. “Singapore is positioning itself very well in terms of industrial transformation and automation. In general, for automation to be implemented in Southeast Asia, I believe there needs to be a lot of education on the customer side as well as in universities so that there is more talent available in the market to drive the transformation.”
There is no way around it, according to Puschmann, as the industrial transformation process is going to happen. “The question is more about which industries will be first. I believe the manufacturing sector is probably one of the more difficult ones for adoption. The transformation process might take place more in the logistics space and in food production first, before it moves on to manufacturing,” says Puschmann. “Manufacturing is always unique—what is manufactured on the metal side on the one hand, and on the plastics side on another, always require different machines.”
And when it comes to automation, it can be a step-by-step process, or a transformation in one go.
“You can do it step by step, by looking at what you are manufacturing today and by potentially automating certain modules of your manufacturing process. Or, if you have the capability, the knowledge, the budget and the breadth to implement it, you can do it in one go—which bears a higher risk, of course, but also results in a faster return,” explains Puschmann. “However, if you are a medium-sized company today and you are not looking into automation at all, you might risk not existing anymore in five years’ time.”
Industry 4.0 is a very big word, which might scare a lot of people, according to Puschmann. “To really achieve Industry 4.0, you must do much more than just automate. While the first step is getting into automation, how you get into it is through education, which means taking away the apprehension of the product and helping the customer with the application. There is also a need for support on having a common understanding with the customer and on taking away the general fear by underlining that automation is not about replacing, but about giving the opportunity to businesses to upskill their people and giving them more value-added opportunities and tasks. Once you have these companies interested in automation, the next step would be integrating the automation processes into their existing platforms,” he says. “What is going to be interesting and important for us is tapping into different ecosystems of knowledge platforms and manufacturers and bringing this network effect to life. This ensures that the customer can really utilize all the different products and equipment and knowledge out there to get the best solution for them. Automation and Industry 4.0 are very complex, and I think one party alone would probably not be able to handle it. Leveraging that network effect is where DKSH can play an important role for our customers.”
In response to the ongoing global health crisis caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, Siemens is making its Additive Manufacturing (AM) Network along with its 3D printers, available to the global medical community to speed design and production of medical components.
The AM Network connects users, designers and 3D-print service providers to enable faster and less complicated production of spare parts for machines like ventilators. The Siemens AM network is available globally and covers the entire value chain – from upload and simulation to checking the design up to the printing process and associated services.
“Having worked on Additive Manufacturing for years, we offer AM solutions along the entire value chain and can print 3D parts quickly according to acute demands. To help fight COVID-19, we have opened our AM Network for hospitals and other health institutions needing spare medical parts to efficiently manage their design and printing requests”, said Klaus Helmrich, Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG and CEO Siemens Digital Industries.
Siemens’ designers and engineers are a part of the AM Network so they can answer design requests and help convert designs into printable files. Afterwards, these components can be printed via medically certified 3D printers of partner companies that are also part of the AM Network.
In addition to numerous 3D printers from partner companies, Siemens’ 3D printing machines are also connected to the network and if suitable, will also be used to locally print components and spare parts for medical devices. Printing capacities from additional service providers can easily be added to the AM Network.
Few technologies stand to transform industry as much as additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Mike Regan, Director (HP Labs / CTO), HP-NTU Digital Manufacturing Corporate Lab, tells us why.
Today, the world’s most successful companies are not those that insulate themselves from accountability. Rather, they’re the ones that routinely take stock of whether they are performing as the public expects—and now demands—of them. More than ever, this thoughtful self-evaluation is paramount, especially on the heels of a thought-provoking World Economic Forum last month.
Recently, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), issued a sweeping manifesto in which he challenged companies around the globe to define their universal purpose in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0). It is a thoughtful dissertation that urges leaders to spend as much time fulfilling human and societal aspirations as they do generating wealth.
Industry 4.0 promises to completely reshape how businesses operate, make products and deliver them to markets throughout Asia and the world. While still in its early stages, this paradigm shift could lead to the creation of more than 133 million new roles, according to a study made by the World Economic Forum. As history has proven, though, radical change is difficult. Redefining value creation for the future invariably triggers some hesitation at the highest levels of business.
To that end, HP partnered with the Nanyang Technological University to launch the HP-NTU Digital Manufacturing Corporate Lab, which aims to drive the innovation and skills required for Industry 4.0 in Singapore and across the region.
Still, companies recognise they must embrace technology—and change—to advance their businesses and serve a greater purpose in this world. In the coming year, therefore, I expect robust government and business discussion around three key trends: the continued march of digital manufacturing; the rise of additive manufacturing and its implications for the environment; and the need to fill the ongoing digital skills gap.
The Tech Driving a Digital Manufacturing Revolution
To thrive in Industry 4.0, digital transformation is imperative. IDC predicts global investment in this area will approach $7.4 trillion between 2020 and 2023. The manufacturing sector, a major driver of global prosperity and economic health, has been the most active, with manufacturers spending more than $345 billion globally on digital transformation in 2019 alone.
In the year ahead, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), which enable the automation and optimisation of processes from design to delivery, will likely constitute much of that investment. A McKinsey survey found that nearly half (47 percent) of companies have implemented at least one AI capability, with robotic process automation, computer vision and ML being the most common. Manufacturers reported deriving the greatest value from such technologies, especially for streamlining operations, improving visibility into supply chains and asserting more control over business strategies and operations.
Manufacturers will also continue embracing the cost and operational advantages of cloud computing. This will not simply mean outsourcing all data to third party servers. Rather, most enterprise organisations will pursue hybrid strategies involving a blend of public and private clouds as well as edge computing. In fact, a global Nutanix study found manufacturers plan to more than double their hybrid cloud deployments to 45 percent penetration in two years.
Virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) are also on target to become more prevalent on factory floors. IDC says worldwide spending on VR and AR will jump to $18.8 billion in 2020 compared to last year, with discreet manufacturing making up $1.4 billion of that total. Asian-Pacific automakers, in particular, are embracing VR and AR innovation. Toyota, for instance, is using the technology to build cars faster and give customers a virtual glimpse of what is under the hood—without even lifting it. Hyundai and Kia, meantime, have established a VR design evaluation system to help enhance vehicle development processes.
Creating the reliable and trustworthy digital ecosystem outlined in Schwab’s manifesto requires leaders to invest in emerging digital technology that creates value, not just in their own supply chain, but also throughout their workforce and for their consumers.
How 3D Printing Will Build a Better World
Few technologies stand to transform industry as much as additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.
Advances in materials have made it possible to finally use this technology for more than just producing prototypes. It can now be used to make entire products. 3D printers will play central roles in the production of everything from consumer goods to aerospace and defence equipment to artificial limbs and organs.
Along the way, it’s likely this nascent industry will lead to substantial economic growth. In fact, the Asia-Pacific region is becoming the fastest growing 3D printing market in the world, according to AMFG, an additive manufacturer software provider. AMFG forecasts spending on 3D printing in the region will grow 18 percent to reach $3.6 billion within five years, led by China, Japan and South Korea.
Committing to 3D printing serves Schwab’s vision to “continuously expand the frontiers of knowledge, innovation and technology to improve people’s well-being.” Additive manufacturing also has significant implications for the environment, reducing the negative effects of manufacturing, from production runs to shipping.
In a recent study made by A.T. Kearney, a model on the sustainability of 3D printing showed CO2 emissions could be reduced by 130 to 525 Mt by 2025, including a 5 percent reduction in manufacturing intensities due to 3D printing. The study went on to say that if 3D printing was applied to higher production volumes, it could even decouple energy and CO2 emissions altogether from economic activity. Embracing 3D printing wholeheartedly can help companies meet the Manifesto’s directive for organisations to become “stewards of the environmental and material universe for future generations.”
Considering the Skills Gap in the Era of Rapid Innovation
Rapid innovation and the digitisation of analogue processes are tenets of the Industry 4.0. As we move through this decade, millions of new tech-oriented jobs will be created, often without enough qualified candidates to fill them.
To address this disparity, businesses will need to make it their mission to retrain current employees and contribute to educational institutions to ensure the next wave of entrepreneurs and workers are ready for the inevitable changes coming to the manufacturing sector. This investment in new and deepening skills will create a pathway for the profound ideas and solutions our global well-being depends on right now.
This is a time to celebrate change and a commitment to technologies that will make life better and more sustainable for everyone across this region.
Knowing all the additive manufacturing constraints and challenges, the ESPRIT CAM team has been engaged in national and international research projects to develop dedicated toolpath simulation solutions for additive technologies. Article by Clément Girard, Product Manager for Additive at DP Technology.
Figure 1: Additive Manufacturing Toolpath Simulation with ESPRIT.
While additive manufacturing (AM) has been around for the last 20 years, it is only in the last several years that metal AM has taken off. One of the key enablers for this new technology is material extrusion, more commonly known as 3D printing. While jetting technology (material or binder) is more suitable for 3D printing polymer and charged materials, engineers commonly apply power bed fusion (PBF) or direct energy deposition (DED) for the AM of metals.
All AM processes have some common characteristics. They use a power source, usually a laser or electron beam or a welding arc, and a material carrier, typically powder or wire, to build a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design (CAD) model by adding molten material layer by layer. Powder processes most closely resemble traditional sintering processes, while wire processes (also called wire arc additive manufacturing) most closely resemble traditional welding.
Each method has advantages and disadvantages. For example, powder processes tend to have better surface quality—owing to the small size of the powder particles—but material loss can be high (as much as 80 percent when the tool is inclined in 5-axis applications). Wire processes lose less material, but the deposited bead tends to be larger, leading to a “rougher” surface quality. Powder processes require the use of shielding gas, as do some wire processes.
It is also important to remember that parts built by additive processes today more closely resemble raw stock of a particular shape than they do machined parts. This means that secondary subtractive processes are almost always needed to achieve the final part. Hybrid machines with both additive and subtractive capabilities may be an answer to this. However, because additive parts can take a considerable amount of time to make, it is generally more effective to machine additive parts in a separate CNC center.
Who Can Benefit from AM?
Figure 2: 3-axis tested part with acute angles, slopes and pocket to show ESPRIT Additive capabilities. Programmed with ESPRIT, Courtesy – Mazak, Okuma, G6SCOP/Grenoble University
Currently aerospace, aviation, medical, energy, and defense are the main industries at the forefront of AM. For aerospace and aviation, AM’s ability to build complex, weight-saving shapes makes it a natural choice.
Particularly interesting for the medical field is AM’s ability to create custom shapes to match the morphology of each patient. These and other industries can also benefit from using additive processes to repair tools or parts made of costly alloys, or to apply coatings to tools.
The Challenges of Additive Toolpaths
Multi-axis additive toolpaths can be more difficult to program than those of a comparable subtractive operation, as additive toolpaths introduce a new level of complexity. For example, executing a toolpath twice in a subtractive process typically causes no issues, as the tool simply passes through air. However, the same toolpath in an additive process collides with recently deposited material, crashing the machine or re-melting the material, leading to an overheated deposition.
Optimal additive layers are not always planar, but creating non-planar additive layers is more complex than making non-planar subtractive cuts—the additive toolpath must consider support for such layers, which may involve an existing substrate or built-up additive material.
The additional complexity goes beyond just the toolpath, however. Additive processes require knowledge of the material, the power source technology, the proper temperature and rate of bead deposition, and the use of shielding gas. In some cases, separate controllers add complexity, as in the case of wire arc AM where a welding controller may handle the wire supply feed separately from the machine controller.
Accelerating Smart AM with Simulation
Figure 3: 5-axis valve tested part. Done on Yaskawa robot with Fronius head in G-SCOP/Grenoble INP. CAD Design made by G-SCOP/Grenoble INP.
Knowing all the additive constraints and eager to provide new technologies to their end users, the ESPRIT CAM team has been engaged in national and international research projects, in collaboration with the research centers or companies primarily in the aerospace/aviation and energy industries, to develop dedicated toolpath simulation solutions for additive technologies. Today, these teams continue to contribute to additive technology research, providing a powerful tool to continue building knowledge.
Last year, in close collaboration with Mazak, ESPRIT conducted tests to validate additive toolpath trajectories (Figure 1). These tests have validated cycles on 3-axis and 5-axis machines and have shown good results. Testing continues to evaluate promising AM and robot technology.
Additive Simulation Validation
Two parts were chosen to validate 3-axis and 5-axis applications, respectively. The 3-axis part was designed to validate simple trajectories and the behavior of material deposition on acute angles. To achieve this, the part included spikes, slopes, and a pocket feature in the middle. Figure 2 shows the additive part as built in a Mazak Variaxis J-600 machine. The main idea was to test hybrid capabilities by building an additive stock in the basic shape of the part and then finishing it with subtractive machining.
To test a 5-axis cycle, the team selected a valve part. Similar to the 3-axis part, the idea here was to build a custom stock in the basic shape of the part to save money, material, and time over using bar stock. Figure 3 shows the additive stock as built.
Both of these test parts were built using a Variaxis J-600 machine and a Yaskawa robot with a Fronius head and wire arc AM technology. In both cases, the ESPRIT team found that fine-tuning of the job parameters is the key to a good deposition, with good results close to the simulated trajectories shown in Figure 4.
Additive Processes and ESPRIT
Figure 4: Additive Manufacturing Simulation for Direct Energy Deposition (DED). CAD Design made by G-SCOP/Grenoble INP
In the CAM environment, simulation of additive cycles lets end users verify additive toolpaths, including the results of thermal simulation and dwell time. Incorporating the full machine environment in the simulation has the added benefit of machine-aware capability, detecting and avoiding collisions in the virtual environment before they cause problems in the real world. As the technology matures, so too will CAM. By being on the ground floor and developing additive CAM technology in lockstep with the additive industry, ESPRIT shows strong promise to remain on the leading edge.
HP has released its list of predictions for 3D printing and digital manufacturing in 2020. Informed by extensive interviews with a team of experts, this year’s research identifies top trends that will have a major impact on advancing Industry 4.0 such as the need for more sustainable production, how automation will transform the factory floor, and the rise of data and software as the backbone of digital manufacturing.
“The year ahead will be a time of realising 3D printing and digital manufacturing’s true potential across industries,” said Pete Basiliere, Founder, Monadnock Insights. “As HP’s trend report indicates, digital manufacturing will enable production of users’ ideal designs by unlocking new and expanded software, data, services, and industrial production solutions that deliver more transformative experiences while also disrupting legacy industries.”
The 2020 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing Predictions Are:
1) Automated Assembly Will Thrive on the Factory Floor
Automated assembly will arrive, with industries seamlessly integrating multi-part assemblies including combinations of both 3D printed metal and plastic parts. There’s not currently a super printer that can do all things intrinsically, like printing metal and plastic parts, due to factors such as processing temperatures. However, as automation increases, there’s a vision from the industry for a more automated assembly setup where there is access to part production across both metals and plastics simultaneously.
2) Coding Digital Information Into 3D Printed Textures Will Accelerate
Organisations will be able to code digital information into the surface texture itself using advanced 3D printing, providing a bigger data payload than just the serial number. This is one way to tag a part either overtly or covertly so that both people and machines are able to read it based on the shape or orientation of the bumps.
3) Sustainable Production Will Continue to Be a Business Imperative
3D printing will enable the manufacturing industry to produce less waste, less inventory and less CO2 emissions. Engineers and designers will rethink design throughout the product lifecycle to use less material and reduce waste by combining parts and using complex geometries to produce lightweight parts. This further reduces the weight of vehicles and aircraft to improve fuel efficiency which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.
4) Demand for Students Who Think in 3D Will Increase
Higher education is at a crossroads, challenged with competing for enrolment, changing demographics and the need to adequately prepare students for the future of work. What’s needed is a complete mind shift to prepare for Industry 4.0.
5) Mass Customisation Will Fuel New Growth in Footwear, Eyewear and Dental
The consumer health sector will fuel digital manufacturing growth and adoption, as footwear, eyewear and orthodontics applications rapidly adopt 3D printing technologies. There’s a massive application space around footwear that’s very lucrative for the 3D printing industry.
6) 3D Printing Will Power the Electrification of Vehicles
Automakers are increasingly turning to 3D printing and digital manufacturing to help compete in a time of change, as the industry goes through its biggest transformation in more than a 100 years moving away from the internal combustion engine toward electric vehicles. As electric vehicles increase in popularity, automakers will continue to unlock the capabilities of both metal and plastic 3D printing systems to speed up their design and development in order to meet ambitious goals.
7) 3D Printing Will Drive New Supply Chain Efficiencies
The capability to deliver things digitally and produce things locally has not always won out. At the end of the day, manufacturers must analyse where in the supply chain it’s the most efficient to root production – whether that’s near the end users or near the source of material production.
8) Software Will Push the Boundaries of Digital Manufacturing to New Levels
In 2020 we will close the gap between what 3D printing and digital manufacturing hardware is capable of and what the software ecosystem supports. Advancements in software and data management will drive improved system management and part quality leading to better customer outcomes. Companies within the industry are creating API hooks to build a fluid ecosystem for customers and partners that includes purpose-built individualised products.