Turning FDM into a mainstream manufacturing process
3D printer maker Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS) announced a joint initiative with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to advance the additive manufacturing technology known as fused deposition modeling (FDM) into a mainstream manufacturing process. The initiative builds upon a strong collaboration that leverages ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) to foster energy efficient production using additive manufacturing materials and processes.
The project targets two main objectives: 1) develop in-process inspection to assure part quality and suitability for service, and 2) develop carbon fiber reinforced FDM feedstock materials to produce strong, lightweight components.
Weight reduction has a major impact on fuel consumption. For example, on a commercial aircraft, a 500 lb weight reduction results in a quarter-million-dollar savings in fuel costs each year.
“The research and development done at the MDF allows us to explore innovative ideas in next-generation materials and manufacturing technologies to help U.S. industry,” says Dr. Lonnie Love, Distinguished Research Scientist and Group Leader for Automation, Robotics and Manufacturing at ORNL. “The project with Stratasys will lead to commercialization of new products that will ultimately make U.S. manufacturing more competitive and energy efficient.”
“The additive process can reduce the energy impact of manufacturing,” said Stratasys Vice President of Direct Digital Manufacturing Jeff DeGrange. “It reduces material consumption, waste streams, large investments into metal tooling, warehouse costs and transportation costs. You don’t have to bring in material just to machine 75% of it away as with traditional manufacturing. Additive manufacturing deposits material only where it’s needed to grow a part.”
Manufacturing is a major component of the U.S. economy, accounting for 11% of GDP ($1.5 trillion), more than 12 million jobs, and 57% of U.S. exports. But while U.S. innovation remains strong, most companies don’t have the leading-edge R&D facilities and services that help to commercialize new ideas.
“The initiative with Oak Ridge presents a significant opportunity, particularly in the aerospace and automotive industries, to enable lightweight high performance products to reach the market quicker and at lower costs,” said DeGrange.
Oak Ridge National Labs