Last summer we looked at the trending topics of additive manufacturing. While everyone was on their summer vacation it seemed like AM was too hot to stop – that much hasn’t changed. But what are the hot topics this summer? What’s trending in the AM summer of 2019?
1. AM Collaborations
One of the more dominant trends this year, extending to this summer, are collaborations. Companies, as well as research facilities, are working together, each bringing forward their specialized knowledge. We wrote in the past about the need for creating partnerships in order to advance the AM ecosystem as a whole, and the importance of communicating knowledge, between industrial partners, as well as with academic institutions. This summer, the AM collaboration efforts continue.
Just a few recent announcements include Oerlikon and MT Aerospace working on a one-stop-shop solution for additively manufactured aerospace components, 3D Systems and GF Machining Solutions expanding their ongoing partnership to Greater China, a new collaboration between Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, and Elementum 3D, Thyssenkrupp collaborating with EOS, as well as experts and partners in Singapore on their recently published white paper, Royal DSM together with HighTechXL, Hexagon, and Ultimaker launching an AM acceleration program, DSM’s collaboration with Briggs Automotive Company co-developing additively manufactured automotive applications, a recent partnership between Aidro Hydraulics and EOS aiming to accelerate AM adoption in the oil and gas industry (parts above), Musashi Seimitsu Industry, a Japanese automotive manufacturing company and battery developer KeraCel developing 3D printed solid-state batteries for the automotive sector – and these are just from the last couple of summer months.
2. AM & Workflow Automation
As additive manufacturing matures, it becomes evident that the technology should be treated as part of a whole, as a mindset for an optimal workflow. It seems that lately more efforts are dedicated to the workflow itself and how all the phases of additive manufacturing come together. Naturally, this relates to the trending topic of AM collaborations, such as in the partnership between 3D Systems and GF Machining Solutions mentioned above. Their metal AM solutions are designed to enable an integrated AM workflow, lowering production costs and increasing efficiency. Another aspect of automated AM workflow relates to the importance of consistency, which is especially important in critical parts such as in automotive and aircraft. Airbus is now testing Sigma Labs‘ PrintRite3D quality assurance solutions. The hardware and software system monitors materials, machine processes and production consistency in an AM workflow. The In-Process-Quality-Assurance (IPQA) capabilities are ideal for aircraft parts which need strict production monitoring and quality assurance throughout the workflow.
3. AM & Trains
After the rising popularity of additively manufactured applications in aircraft and automotive, here come the trains. Deutsche Bahn initiated “Mobility Goes Additive” back in 2016 aiming to identify AM applications for new and old parts, as well as tools in the production and maintenance of trains. Stefanie Brickwede, head of additive manufacturing at Deutsche Bahn and managing director of Mobility goes Additive. spoke about the needs that lead to AM: “When we buy trains we get the service level agreement for delivery of spare parts for around 15 years. After that time, we look for the parts on the world market and we cannot get them.” Lately, AM train parts have become a trending topic. DB is additively manufacturing a range of parts – fixtures for light displays, coat hooks, steering wheel covers, headrest frames, braille signposts (below), and more. Siemens Mobility now has a digital rail maintenance center, where they produce AM replacement parts and tools on-demand. Britain’s Angel Trains together with ESG Rail and Stratasys are joining the trend, using AM to produce obsolete parts for trains. The company has a number of additively manufactured final train parts that adhere to the Rail Standard such as an armrest and grab handle (up top) which will be integrated into their trains next year.
4. AM Applications
There is a growing interest in “reality” when it comes to AM. We want to see specific applications, technical parts – the truth. Shiny parts and hype stories are not cutting it anymore, applications like the train parts mentioned above are an example of the “easy to go unnoticed but important” parts. Lately, we have been highlighting those applications in our #AMapplication series. So far we covered inductors, interior plane parts, and moving parts such as hinges and ball bearings. It’s often those unseen applications that fully benefit from an additive manufacturing production process. In my eyes, this is the #1 trending topic to follow this summer.
We are always happy to hear what’s new and trending in the AM ecosystem, want to share your news? Tell us about it in the comments below or email us. For more insights and information follow us on LinkedIn or subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates.