By the morning of the second day at the AMUG conference, the meme “Cool sh…t” was in full use. And after listening to Dr. Lonnie Love of Oak Ridge National Laboratories and all the #cool sh..t going on there, and Graham Trohman and Stefan Ritt and all the #cool sh…t going on in China and the rest of the world, you wonder what can’t you do with 3D printing / additive manufacturing? There is so much experimentation and investigation in so many aspects of this industry, it’s just awesome, amazing, and inspiring. As Joe Allison, CEO of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, and a AMUG double DINO recipient noted, “Additive manufacturing laughs at complexity—bring it on!”
The only thing is you must follow the advice of Yoda of Star Wars, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” In other words, don’t rely on what you have learned about designing for traditional manufacturing.
Here are some of the interesting statements made during AMUG:
–Research with Neutrons is leading some to experiment with new ways to understand and see residual stress in additively made parts—i.e., stress mapping.
–Grain orientation of some materials can be altered through parameter control, with the result being variable mechanical properties in additively made parts.
–Hydraulics and additive manufacturing go well together. Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL) is working with integrating seals into additively made parts.
–Carbon fiber is a game changer for polymers. Several additive manufacturing processes (sintering, melting) are energy intensive either to make the material pliable enough for layering and adhering or to keep a build chamber at the right temperature. But carbon added to the material helps lower the temperature requirements.
–In the near future, reducing the energy requirements of additive machines will become an important requirement.
–ORNL is working with materials in pellet form rather than filament or powder. Pellets work better when you are adding carbon to the final material mix. Look for pellets to be a new material form.
–The Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine from Cincinnati Inc. makes big parts without the need for a build “oven.” The next generation BAAM will have a build volume of 8 ft by 20 ft by 6 ft. ORNL plans to have one up and running in about two weeks. Dr. Lonnie Love, group leader at ORNL’s Manufacturing Systems Research Group, likes to build big items. The BAAM has a deposition rate of at least 100 lb/hr. Dr. Love plans on looking into using such machines to build houses next. If you can build a serviceable house in less than a day, you can help people affected by sudden disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes.
–China has installed 400,000 3D printers into schools.
–China is already incorporating Titanium parts into its jet fighters.
–China has been researching metals technology, including the control of microstructures since 1995. Their research shows that controlling microstructures delivers better performance than forged metals.
–Korea and India are moving into the 3D printing, Additive manufacturing market too.
–Throughout the AMUG conference, most discussions revolved around using additive for manufacturing. Prototyping was a rarely used word.
–For use in manufacturing, speed is not necessarily a needed metric. It depends on the industry. Automotive, for example needs speed, but aerospace–not necessarily.
–I think many companies are researching ways to increase production output from AM machines. But you won’t see the results of this research for a while. What companies will show, in terms of increasing speed, is an increase in the number of lasers or nozzles used to build more parts on the build tray.
–Part of the speed issue will revolve around ways to deliver more material to the deposition technology.
–It takes more than 5 years to qualify a material for an additive machine and process. Both machines and support need to mature faster.
–Inspection methods are needed to ensure parts are made properly, internally and externally, to meet various manufacturers’ needs.
–The cry for better software continues. As Ed Herderick, Additive Technologies Leader of GE Corporation Supply Chain and Operations, noted, we need “CAD to Path” software.
–Additive machines will need to prove they offer 99% uptime.
–Materials is a huge factor in the future success of additive manufacturing. As Herderick noted, there are about 30 common additive alloys and 30 polymers, while there are hundreds and thousands of metals and polymers for machining, welding, and injection molding.
–The trend in service bureaus is that they are becoming additive technology agnostic; focused instead on the needs of the applications. Service bureaus could become Tier 1 suppliers to the automotive industry.
–The “older” more traditional machine tool builders are getting involved in the additive manufacturing industry, like Cincinnati Inc. and Mazak.
–Future CAD programs will have to figure out how to deal with terabytes of data, which may be needed in additive.
All of these insights were delivered on day 2 of the AMUG Conference; if you want to know what is going on in this industry, the AMUG Conference is a terrific place to find out. Stay tuned for my next post on day three’s highlights.
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