One of the advantages of Additive Manufacturing is that it enables the redesign of a product or sub assembly in a way which significantly reduces the number of components it is made of. A complex product traditionally manufactured as an assembly of hundreds of parts can be consolidated into an assembly requiring only a handful of parts. Fewer parts mean less work done on each part, less time and less labor – reducing the costs of production. Moreover “Reducing the number of parts in an assembly immediately cuts the overhead associated with documentation, inspection and production planning, and control” states the Wohlers report for 2017. Here are 4 examples of companies applying consolidation to their products.
GE and the Turboprop
After the famous fuel nozzle, additively manufactured as 1 part instead of an assembly of 18 parts, GE developed the Advanced Turboprop engine, consolidating 855 parts into 12 additively manufactured parts. The bearing and sump assemblies were reduced from 80 parts to 1. Textron Aviation has chosen the engine to power it’s new Cessna Denali aircraft, planned to run for the first time this year. GE did not only make the production more efficient, the newly designed engine also reduces fuel consumption by 20%.
Airbus’s Racks and Partitions
Airbus 3D printed a hydraulic housing tank in one piece (below, Photo: Hermann Jansen) instead of their traditionally manufactured part composed of 126 components (above), not only cutting the process of complex assemblies but also reducing the use of materials and tooling required to produce each single part.
The company also collaborated with AutoDesk on a ‘Bionic Partition for aircraft (below and detail of parts coming out of 3D printer up top). The production of the partition with AM reduces weight by approximately 45% while maximizing the efficiency of the panels in use and production.
CEEE, Quickparts and the Heat-Exchanger
The University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Energy Engineering (CEEE) worked with 3D Systems Quickparts service on an optimized heat-exchanger to be produced as an additively manufacturing single part. “With conventional manufacturing technologies, assembly by brazing extremely thin tubes to a manifold is a painstaking operation with very low reliability when it comes to leakages under high-pressure conditions, With DMP technology, no assembly is required since the part is produced in one continuous operation, no matter how complex the parts or how delicate the features,” says Vikrant Aute, director of CEEE’s Modeling and Optimization Consortium.
Citim in a Single Piece
Back in TCT 2015, Citim exhibited a large scale 3D printed aluminum part, showing the capabilities of AM in creating a single piece component instead of complex assemblies that could not be produced by traditional manufacturing technologies.
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