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.
HP Inc. and its global digital manufacturing community are mobilising their 3D printing teams, technology, experience, and production capacity to help deliver critical parts in the effort to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1000 3D printed parts have already been delivered to local hospitals. HP’s 3D R&D centers in Barcelona, Spain; Corvallis, Oregon; San Diego, California; and Vancouver, Washington are collaborating with partners around the world in a coordinated effort to increase production to meet the most urgent needs.
Initial applications being validated and finalised for industrial production include face masks, face shields, mask adjusters, nasal swabs, hands-free door openers, and respirator parts. HP is also coordinating with government, health, and industry agencies in numerous countries to ensure a synchronised and effective approach.
“HP and our digital manufacturing partners are working non-stop in the battle against this unprecedented virus. We are collaborating across borders and industries to identify the parts most in need, validate the designs, and begin 3D printing them,” said Enrique Lores, President and CEO, HP Inc.
Many more applications are in the testing and validation phase and are expected to begin production soon, including:
Field Ventilator: 3D printed parts for a mechanical bag valve mask (BVM) that is designed for use as a short-term emergency ventilation of COVID-19 patients. This simplified design enables a robust and less-complex device, facilitating its rapid production and assembly.
FFP3 Face Masks: Effective protective gear is needed for medical providers to treat the volume of expected COVID-19 patients. HP is validating several hospital-grade face masks and expects them to be available shortly.
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.
Wear-resistant parts are used wherever there is friction between two surfaces. To help users quickly get their special solution made of a suitable material, igus has now integrated the Print2Mould process in its online 3D printing service. With a printed tool, the component is manufactured by injection moulding. To do this, the user simply uploads the STEP file of the wear-resistant part into the 3D printing service, selects the material and requests a quotation. Specifications on the material properties as well as the precision, flexural strength and the price help with the choice.
55 iglidur high-performance polymers
If customers are looking for a wear-resistant plain bearing, they can choose from a large selection of igus materials. However, if wear-resistant parts are required – from gears up to special bushings – in any special shape, the user can either machine the component from a suitable iglidur bar stock or use igus’ 3D printing for more complex geometries.
For the individual component to be made from the ideal iglidur material for the respective application, igus offers the Print2Mould process. An injection moulding tool is printed for the special solution and is then used in the injection moulding machine.
The main advantage: the user can freely use the iglidur material range with its 55 lubrication-free, high-performance polymers. These include, the FDA-compliant materials iglidur A350 and A181 for use in the food industry, iglidur L500 for the automotive sector, and iglidur X for high-temperature applications.
The production of special parts by this process is characterised above all as a time-saving solution for prototype development and for small batches. This gives the customer the opportunity to obtain identical components in batches at an early stage of development.
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.
Steve Bell of Renishaw Singapore discusses the additive manufacturing trend for aerospace parts, and the journey towards Industry 4.0. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
At the recent Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific (ITAP) 2019 event in Singapore, Renishaw (Singapore) Pte Ltd showcased an end-to-end solution involving the production of aerospace blades and its assembly into a blisk. From additive manufacturing, where the aerospace blades were manufactured (Station 1) though metal 3D printing; to the calibration station, which featured Renishaw’s XL80 and XK10 calibration products, designed to make sure that machining processes are as accurate as they can be; to Station 3, which featured a machine tool showing some of Renishaw’s probing technologies, particularly SupaScan, which is a method of using a scanning probe on a machine tool to gather data quickly, and enables set up of a part very accurately. Alongside the machine tool is the Equator gauging system, which makes sure that parts being finished on the machine tool stay within tolerance. Finally, Station 4 showcases the final assembly of the blades into a blisk, which is being inspected on a CMM using a REVO 5-axis scanning technology.
“Basically, we’re looking at a complete, end-to-end story of the part,” says Steve Bell, general manager for ASEAN at Renishaw Singapore. “All of that supplemented by Renishaw Central, a software product that allows you to gather data from the complete mix of Renishaw equipment; and from there, to use the data to make intelligent decisions about your manufacturing processes.
According to Bell, it is the first time for company to attend ITAP. “We heard good things about last year’s ITAP event, so we decided to take part this year,” he says. “What we are seeing is that it is very much focused on automation, smart factory, Industry 4.0—these are all things that are of interest to us as a company. Industry 4.0 is all about connectivity of your equipment, getting useful information from the equipment, and then using that information to make sensible decisions about how you continue your manufacturing process. And all of that is very much what Renishaw is about.”
Growing Aerospace Industry
The aerospace industry in Singapore is a growing market, according to Bell. “It is very much an industry niche within Singapore,” he says.
The challenge, though, is the accuracy, the need for conformity of parts, and the need to reach the approval levels that are essential within the industry.
“The tolerances are constantly getting tighter, so, people are looking for improvements in performance, they are looking for faster, more consistent ways to manufacture parts,” he notes. “These areas are where we think we have a lot to contribute.”
An evolution in the manufacture of aerospace parts is taking place, especially with the emergence of 3D printing. In fact, the blades showcased here by Renishaw feature a hollow lattice-structured central section. “The aim is to make the blades strong, but also as light as possible,” says Bell.
Journey to Industry 4.0
ITAP covers the full gamut of industry—from top level factory management systems, all the way down to shop floor tooling.
“Industry 4.0 is meant to bring all of the diverse parts together, to bring the data on to one single platform where decisions can be made,” says Bell. “So, I think, an exhibition that reflects that, with a focus on Industry 4.0, makes a lot of sense to us.”
According to Bell, people have been talking a lot about Industry 4.0, “but the first signs of real implementation are just beginning to be seen,” he says. The picture across Southeast Asia is quite mixed. While some markets are moving rapidly to Industry 4.0, for others, it is going to take longer toward smart factory implementation.
“I look after Southeast Asia. In Singapore, a lot of the heavy lifting has been done by the Singapore government, so they are pushing the SMEs towards an understanding of Industry 4.0, and hopefully, also implementation. From our point of view as a company, our first requirement is to make sure that our own equipment can be integrated into central systems ; we need to have all the hooks in place so that the data from our equipment can be ported into other factory management systems. That’s exactly what we are trying to showcase at this exhibition.”
Driving the Next Industrial Revolution: Here’s how ZEISS is helping Oerlikon ensure that all AM components reach their desired geometric accuracy and specified mechanical characteristics.
Until recently, additive manufacturing (AM) was thought to have value solely in prototyping new products or designs. Today, however, it is evolving into a game-changing production technology, with companies like Oerlikon at the forefront of industrializing this technique. In their Munich-based Innovation and Technology Centre, Oerlikon places priority on attention to detail throughout the entire AM process chain—from the initial research and development to final product inspection. To ensure that all AM components reach their desired geometric accuracy and specified mechanical characteristics, Oerlikon chose ZEISS to supply the lab’s microscopy and metrology solutions.
Additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing, is a production technology that is driving the next industrial revolution. In metal AM, all products start as a digital model. AM equipment reads the data from this model to build the product by adding layer upon layer of metal powder. This powder is fully melted to the layers beneath it using a high-powered laser or electron beam. The process is repeated, layer by layer, until the part is complete. Using this technique, objects can be made of customized metal alloys in virtually any shape. The advantages are apparent: Additive manufacturing delivers the freedom to innovate, enabling production of parts with lower weight, higher temperature resistance, and improved mechanical performance—characteristics demanded by aerospace, automotive, medical, power generation, tooling, oil and gas, and other industries.
Oerlikon Group, a leading producer of metal powders, recently formed the company Oerlikon AM to focus on additive manufacturing. In its Munich Innovation and Technology Centre, Oerlikon connects the dots between materials science, component design, process engineering, production, and post-processing. Under the leadership of highly regarded materials research scientist Blanka Szost, a young, international team of researchers, engineers, and metallurgists is dedicated to driving the integrated development of new materials, production processes, software, automation and post-processing solutions.
The ZEISS instruments are engaged in a wide range of analytical and inspection tasks—from metallographic investigation, in-process analysis, dimensional measurements and inner structure examination—to surface characterization and final quality control.
Oerlikon’s new Munich microscopy laboratory is equipped with a ZEISS Comet 6 3D scanner, a ZEISS Stemi 508 stereo microscope, a ZEISS Smartzoom 5 digital microscope, a ZEISS Smartproof 5 confocal microscope, and a ZEISS MERLIN field emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM). The diverse characterization and measurement capabilities delivered by these solutions are enabling thorough study of material properties, allowing scientists to compile comprehensive data for verifying the quality of printed parts.
“A reliable quality check as well as precise measurements are necessary to reveal product properties in their entirety,” process engineer Luke Dee says. “Every component produced by our AM machines undergoes a dimensional inspection to ensure that part geometries are within tolerance.”
Alper Evirgen, metallurgist at Oerlikon AM, adds, “In this regard, ZEISS Comet 6 16M is a crucial tool for assessing the dimensional accuracy of the designs and components. Its 16 megapixel camera provides the needed precision to produce the highest quality 3D scan data. ZEISS Comet 6 16M is one of the best solutions available for supporting AM.”
Ensuring Successful Process Flow
Another important challenge is to produce components with the desired microstructure while minimizing variation from part to part.
“We carefully control all production parameters and post processing conditions which could markedly affect our final product microstructure and therefore, final properties,” Evirgen says.
To further assure a successful process flow, Oerlikon employs the ZEISS Smartzoom 5 digital microscope and the ZEISS MERLIN FE-SEM. Process engineers, powder experts and metallurgists use this suite to characterize the powders, alloys and the printed materials. The instruments help them identify changes to micro-structure during the entire manufacturing process. Specifically, the ZEISS Merlin FE-SEM reveals further details for both process powders and final products with its high resolution imaging and compositional analysis capabilities.
To meet the strict surface quality requirements in industries such as aerospace or medical, scientists meticulously inspect each component produced in the Munich facility via surface texture measurements. “We benefit greatly from the high accuracy of the ZEISS Smartproof 5 confocal microscope when obtaining surface roughness profiles from the final products. A significant advantage to using this microscope is that there is no damage to the analyzed surfaces, because confocal technology uses light scattering principles. No surface contact is required during analysis,” Evirgen notes.
Referring to the success story of Oerlikon’s implementation of ZEISS instruments in their laboratories, Szost, who is the head of Additive Manufacturing Competence Centre of Oerlikon AM, comments, “In materials science terms, AM is like discovering a new universe, and the field of microscopy is like the telescope we need to explore it. ZEISS provides us with the equipment we need to continue driving the industrialization of Additive Manufacturing.”
As one of only a few companies able to provide the entire process chain—from powder production, processing and handling—to the final component production, Oerlikon will continue using ZEISS equipment to lead the development of its AM technologies.
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.
In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking News, Dr. Mohsen Seifi, Director of Global Additive Manufacturing Programs at ASTM International, discusses the benefits of additive manufacturing (AM) in manufacturing and the role of data analytics in AM.
Dr. Mohsen Seifi, Director of Global Additive Manufacturing Programs, ASTM International
Tell us more about ASTM International, for those who may not be familiar with the organisation.
ASTM International is one of the world’s leading standards development organisations, founded in 1898. We have 150 technical committees that oversee about 13,000 standards that are widely used around the world. Several of those committees are in emerging industries, including one for additive manufacturing technology that now has nearly 1,000 members, known as F42. For over a decade, this group of the world’s top additive manufacturing experts has been meeting and working through ASTM to develop groundbreaking standards that have begun to form the technical foundation for the future of additive manufacturing. Furthermore, ASTM International has made a dramatic investment in front-end research to develop even more standards through our Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence, a network of high-profile partners around the globe which includes Singapore’s National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC). Please visit our website for more detailed information.
In the Industry 4.0 era, greater efficiency and product innovation are key priorities for manufacturers. How can they leverage additive manufacturing/3D printing to achieve both?
A big challenge for manufacturers is the lack of communication between stakeholders at different steps in the process chain. Smart, digital manufacturing could allow manufacturers to effectively transfer the most relevant information across all stages of product development, from designers to end-users. Additive Manufacturing is an integral part of Industry 4.0 and is an excellent technology for product innovation that could significantly reduce the time for product development through iterative design capabilities.
Also, Additive manufacturing can substantially improve the efficiency of the manufacturing process by parts consolidation. This will enhance the effectiveness of a system as a whole in terms of weight reduction, material optimisation, and reduction in fuel consumption. For AM, digital manufacturing means integrating physical system-oriented manufacturing with digital system-oriented Industry 4.0 technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence (AI), big data, robotics, cybersecurity, and Internet of Things [IoT]). To fully unlock the potential of smart, digital manufacturing, there are still issues to address, which include cybersecurity concerns, data management challenges, and other critical gaps. ASTM uses various roadmaps to develop standards to address these gaps and to meet the industry needs.
Which end-markets do you see increasing adoption of additive manufacturing?
AM has the potential to impact all manufacturing-related sectors—from aerospace, medical and automotive to oil/gas, maritime and other sectors—and we anticipate adoption will increase exponentially across the board in the next 10 years. In particular, AM holds great promise for aerospace/defense and medical applications. Both of these sectors require complex, specialised parts, which AM is capable of producing. More importantly, the demand for AM qualification and certification in these high-tech areas/end-markets is high. This is because successful qualification and certification provide end-market users with increased confidence (i.e., improvements in quality and reduced safety concerns). According to a recent survey, the three most significant challenges to adoption of AM for end-market users over the next ten years are: 1) the certification of finished parts and products, hindering its mainstream commercial uptake in the future; 2) the quality and standardisation of material inputs; and 3) unknown quality of printed components.
What are the biggest challenges when it comes to additive manufacturing?
As an emerging field, the AM industry still needs a shared language and framework for addressing problems. Lack of standards is one of the biggest challenges for additive manufacturing in addition to other challenges such as lack of qualified workforce, limited availability of materials, and the lack of full-fledged certification programs. Standards provide a common reference point to help the industry avoid the time and expense of solving problems by trial and error. For example, there is an ongoing need for a better understanding of feedstock properties, methods for in-process monitoring and control, machine-to-machine variation, and rapid inspection methods for AM parts, among other topics. In addition, standards are a key enabler of the qualification and certification procedures that were mentioned above.
To accelerate the development of standards to address these challenges, we launched the AM Center of Excellence (CoE), a collaborative partnership among industry, academia, and government that integrates research and development (R&D) with standards development. By initiating R&D projects that target specific high-priority standards needs, I believe we can speed the overall advancement and adoption of AM technologies. Detailed information will be available in our upcoming external R&D roadmap, which will be released this spring. In the meantime, our annual report provides an overview of the AM CoE’s activities.
Why is analytics a feasible solution?
One benefit of analytics is that it presents decision-makers with the key information required to make informed decisions. Manufacturers have access to a wealth of data about their products and processes but are not always able to use it. Analytics is a great tool to convert data into actionable knowledge that can be used to optimise product development. In the case of AM, solutions such as data-enabled material screening, build monitoring, and post-build characterisation ensure the product meets its specifications with as few iterations as possible, helping minimise production time and cost.
How will data analytics make additive manufacturing more efficient?
AM generates more data than any other manufacturing field—this data has great value, but there are challenges to extracting useful information. Structuring data in a way that adheres to FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) will be vital to the success of AM. Data analytics holds the key to processing and making sense of vast stores of data, which will ultimately accelerate the AM development timeline. Data analytics is a solution that cuts across all sectors and is already shaping the future of technology as we know it.
Through AI, which encompasses machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL), the AM industry can quickly decode quantitative structure/process/property/performance relationships, which is a core challenge in the AM field. For example, it is possible to use AI to sift through potential AM materials to find those with optimal properties or functionalities. AI can also enable data-driven in-situ/real-time monitoring for identifying better processes. However, to enable these data-driven advances, the AM community needs an AM data ecosystem that enables the easy and secure generation, storage, analysis, and sharing of data. ASTM and America Makes recently convened a workshop on manufacturing data management and schema to identify and prioritise challenges and potential solutions for strengthening the AM data ecosystem.
What is your outlook for additive manufacturing/3D printing this year?
It is very hard to predict the future of AM because technology is rapidly changing, but I would like to see 2020 as the year of standards. There is an exciting opportunity for more integration between AM and other elements of industry 4.0, in terms of automation, robotics, cybersecurity, and big data—creating these links is a great way to connect the physical world and digital world. I believe that the best way to create synergy between these critical technologies is through standardisation to add trust. The more we can focus on developing standards, the sooner we can see these advances.
Here’s how one company was able to develop a cable mount on the front spar of the vertical stabilizer for a passenger aircraft in record time. Article by EOS GmbH.
Unified design of the additively manufactured tail bracket eliminates 30 parts down to one. (Source: Sogeti)
The moment when a completely new commercial aircraft takes to the skies for the first time is always special—and this was especially true of the Airbus A350 XWB. As a child of the new millennium, it was clear from the very beginning that development work would focus on innovative materials and production processes—the goal was no less than to build the world’s most efficient aircraft.
As a technology of the future, additive manufacturing was another possibility that needed to be considered during development. As part of a pilot project, experts from Sogeti High Tech succeeded in developing a cable mount on the front spar of the vertical stabilizer for the passenger aircraft in record time, taking only two weeks from the initial sketch to the finished part. EOS technology and expertise was a pivotal aspect of this development process.
The project specifically involved producing a cable routing mount for the latest Airbus model. The mount was ultimately needed for the power supply and data transportation of a camera located in the vertical stabilizer, providing a view of the outside to passengers and orientation on the ground to the pilots. The product requirements document called for a functionally operational component suitable for series production. This task was entrusted to Sogeti High Tech, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cap Gemini S.A.
The particular challenge in this case was the short lead time of just two weeks. The entire development had to be completed within this time frame: From analysis of the part and of the current installation set-up, a parameter study aimed at optimizing the topology and its interpretation, and the design and production of the finished part. The mount also needed to have as few support structures as possible to avoid post-processing. In addition, the specifications for the component called for integration of the snap-on cable holder, weight reduction, and compliance with the strict requirements for subsequent aviation industry certification.
The conventionally produced component was made up of formed sheet metal parts and numerous rivets—more than 30 individual parts in total. The plug connectors in the upper area were made from plastic, and thus from a different material than the other individual parts of the mount. The aim was to develop an integrated solution consisting of a single part that also included the plug connectors, thereby significantly reducing construction and installation times. The weight reduction target for additive manufacturing was determined by a parameter study based on topology optimization.
For the new component, Sogeti High Tech followed the tried-and-tested development process for designing additively manufactured parts. The project kicked off with an analysis of the existing, conventionally produced component in terms of the upcoming manufacturing process—with an extremely positive outcome. The component’s functionality, material, and previously complex structure made it an ideal candidate for powder-bed-based 3D printing technology from EOS. The design freedom offered by this technology allows complex structures to be produced in a single piece, meaning that a weight-saving design can be selected without neglecting functional integration.
This analysis then allowed the so-called design space—the space that the cable-routing mount may occupy—to be defined. The aluminium alloy AlSi10Mg, which is ideal for thin-walled, complex structures, was chosen as the material. The interfaces to the external areas remained the same, forming the non-design space, meaning that no changes are needed to be made to them. The defined loads were taken as the boundary conditions for topology optimization in the parameter study, providing the basis for a new design.
As is customary, CAE software was used for the topology optimization calculations; by contrast, a dedicated solution for designing structures with free-form surfaces was used for the re-design. Sogeti High Tech created the design itself. In order to meet the lead time of two weeks, EOS calculated the build time and optimized parameters from the topology optimization results using the EOSPRINT software, which created the CAE implementation for the manufactured part while also taking into account the possibilities and limitations of the manufacturing process and the need to avoid support structures.
“In addition to outstanding hardware, EOS also offers comprehensive expertise in making additively manufactured components reality—something that we rate very highly,” says Carlos Ribeiro Simoes, Additive Manufacturing Offering Leader at Sogeti High Tech.
Thanks to the cooperation between Sogeti and EOS, it was possible to develop a component optimized for additive manufacturing that fully exploits the design freedom afforded by direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) technology, while at the same time taking account of its restrictions. This allowed plug connectors for cable routing to be integrated into the design and local reinforcement to be incorporated in specific critical areas in order to optimize the structure. Self-supporting apertures and struts within the component help to keep the effort, and hence, the post-processing costs to a minimum.
Additionally, the mount can be produced extremely fast, whenever it is needed. Manufacturing—performed on an EOS M 400 with layer thicknesses of 90 μm—only takes 19 hours instead of the 70 days previously required. This corresponds to a reduction in the production time well in excess of 90 percent. This is largely because the many individual steps and formerly 30 parts have been brought together in a central component that can now be produced in a single run. In addition, the individual parts no longer need to be constructed and held in stock, which can be expensive. Storage for the entire component assembly is now also much more straightforward.
Sogeti was not only able to save a huge amount of time in production, but also in development. The entire process from the initial sketch to the finished component took only two weeks. This is a phenomenal lead time. At the same time, the design also means greater weight efficiency. Whereas the conventionally manufactured original part weighed 452 g, the additively manufactured cable mount weighs just 317 g—and it is well known that the aviation industry counts every single gram in the interest of cutting fuel consumption to a minimum. The customer, Airbus, was more than satisfied with the results.
“Getting an existing component ‘AM-ready’ in just two weeks meant that we had to succeed at the first attempt. The excellent, proactive collaboration with EOS made this ambitious undertaking possible—with outstanding results,” says Simoes.