This week we bring you the news round-up from the additive manufacturing (AM) ecosystem. Even with the Coronavirus being declared a pandemic, both AMUG and RAPID+TCT canceled, there is still plenty to report. We will continue to do our best in these difficult times to keep you updated on current AM trends, news, opinions and inspirations. Economies and industries are slowing down, but in the meantime let’s look at some good news amidst the bad.
1. Weight Reduction Applications Continue
One of the advantages of additive manufacturing is redesigning parts and assemblies for weight reduction, this leads to higher functioning parts, higher sustainability, and lower costs of operations (less co2 emitted and less fuel used). Lately, GKN demonstrated 80% weight saving on its additively manufactured hydraulic block sub-assemblies (above), and Aidro’s additively manufactured HD3-AMES valves showed 65% weight reduction compared to the conventionally manufactured parts (below).
2. An Aerospace Collaboration
Ascent Aerospace, a global provider of tooling systems, assembly automation and factory integration for industries such as aerospace and defense announced a partnership with Titomic, an Australian metal additive manufacturing company. The companies aim to establish a strategy for the global supply of aerospace tooling, improving the performance of AM tools and parts, streamlining production and addressing current long lead times, especially when supplying globally.
3. The MRO Service
A new partnership between ERIKS and Ultimaker demonstrates the capabilities of AM in maintenance and repair applications. ERIKS, a company based in the Netherlands provides technical parts as well as services to various industries across 300 locations in 17 countries. The company is no stranger to the benefits of AM, last year they saved over €350,000 using AM for the production of tooling solutions that enhance productivity as well as worker’s safety. With Ultimaker they are scaling up their operations of additive manufacturing solutions for OEM and MRO services. Using multiple Ultimaker machines they are supporting their customers from the early stages of identifying the right parts for AM, through the design to production (below an AM tooling application for quick and safe replacement of a roll of wrapping film, photo via Ultimaker). Their next step is attaining FDA certification for their ‘Clean Manufacturing Facility’ which will be used to additively manufacture food-safe parts, bringing AM tooling solutions to the food industry.
4. 3D Printing vs COVID-19
In Italy, healthcare services are currently in crisis mode due to the Coronavirus outbreak. A hospital in Brescia, in need of respiratory valves for the care of 250 Coronavirus patients in intensive care, discovered the supplier of these valves (which are meant to be used up to 8 hours) was not able to meet demand. In a joint effort with Isinnova chief executive Cristian Fracassi, and mechanical engineer Alessandro Romaioli, they created a 3D printed valve for immediate use (up top). The prototype took 3 hours to develop, and once approved they began additively manufacturing valves at the cost of €1 and an hour to print each. This isn’t a case where an open file can be spread to multiple hospitals and printers – the part requires accuracy and preserving an uncontaminated printing environment. 3D Printer company Lonati joined the efforts of meeting the demands of the much-needed part and is additively manufacturing it in their facility.
5. Hybrid Manufacturing for Tooling
Also in Australia, ANCA, a manufacturer of CNC machines developed a system combining additive and subtractive capabilities for manufacturing custom cutting tools using Tungsten. AM tooling applications are getting more and more traction, especially polymer-based jigs and fixtures. Tungsten is a material that’s relatively hard to work with but is very strong and in this case, is used to penetrate the global cutting tool market which is estimated to reach $2.2 billion by 2023.
6. Collaborating for New AM Solutions
Almost all of the mentions in this round-up are based on working together, here’s another one: UK company TWI Ltd and Barcelona-based technical institute Leitat are working together to develop AM solutions for a range of industries. TWI brings with it an understanding of the AM supply chain and Leitat brings their experience in guiding companies towards AM adoption. Together they aim to develop projects which will lead to new solutions in AM for industries including automotive, aerospace, oil and gas and more.
7. New AM Services
Another important factor in the adoption of AM is companies offering services. Maintenance services, like in ERIKS’ case mentioned above, is one example, consulting and guiding SMEs through AM implementation is another. Two recent examples come from GH Induction and DMG Mori. GH Induction specializes in induction heating systems used in almost all industries. Lately, they announced a new service SERVINDUCTORS which will help their various customers transition from the conventionally manufactured coils to additively manufactured solutions. The service offers consultancy and guidance ranging from questions raised to technical aspects of performance and production (below additively manufactured copper inductors, photo via GH Induction).
Another service-related example is DMG Mori‘s recently launched AM consulting service. Again, the service guides customers through the various phases of implementation, from part identification, to design, optimization, simulation, production, and training. While GH Induction is geared towards a specific application, DMG Mori leverages its expertise in the AM ecosystem to provide a wide-view perspective of the process. Both companies use their knowledge base to educate as a means to widen the scope of AM adoption.
And let’s end with a tip for those worried about opening doors with their hands and touching contaminated door handles. Materialise has developed and released the files for a 3D printed jig that can be added to certain door handles enabling people to use them with their elbows instead. Ingenious and generous at once.