This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
to build boxes with axes around 10 in. Binder jetting systems can produce larger parts, but are still constrained by the size of the build box. 3-D printing methods are some- what limited by the materials available for use. Te number of alloys that can be used for powder bed fusion is only a few dozen, including stainless steel 316, Inconel 625 and 718, titanium Ti64 and a cobalt-chrome alloy. Tese offers should increase as the technology develops and the industry continues to invest in R&D. “DMLS is a micro-welding

process. In principle, if you can weld an alloy, it’s a candidate for DMLS,” said Snow. “Te products that have been brought to market and com- mercialized are the low hanging fruit, developing applications for titanium, stainless steels and nickel-based alloys. Tese are materials that the marketplace is telling us they want first and we’ve delivered those.” Similarly, for binder jetting, only a handful of materials, including 316 and 17-4 stainless steels, an iron- chrome-aluminum alloy and a cobalt chrome alloy, can be infiltrated with bronze to produce metal matrices that are 98% solid. In addition to diversifying materials,

direct metal printing faces a number of challenges associated with a technol- ogy’s natural maturation process. “Traceability, supply chain, repeat-

ability, reliability, real time control, software simulation—all these things have been worked out with other in- dustries such as metalcasting,” Caffrey said. “Tese are things that have yet to be solved for our industry.” But the future is still bright. Con-

sidering 3-D metal printing’s ability to penetrate the medical and aerospace industries, two markets notoriously de- manding and risk averse, the obstacles of meeting requirements of other indus- tries in other materials do not appear insurmountable. “We’ve used 3-D printing for plastic

tooling, so it only makes sense that metal is the next step,” said Brandon Lamoncha, sales manager, Humtown Products, Columbiana, Ohio. “Te in- dustry should embrace this technology when it makes sense, and we’ve seen

GE Aviation plans to produce 40,000 nozzles a year for the LEAP jet engine.

that start to happen.” Humtown Products, the

Youngstown Business Initiative and American Foundry Society helped launch the American Makes initia- tive, an effort to facilitate collabora- tion among leaders from business, academia, non-profit organizations and government agencies to make the U.S. 3-D printing industry more globally competitive.

Finding Space on the Factory Floor

The potential for direct metal

printing is real and significant, but industry experts appear to agree the technology should be seen as complementary to traditional metal component manufacturing and won’t be displacing metalcasting facilities in the near future. “I think all comes back to scal-

ability of the process. I firmly believe we need to get to a point where the economies of scale makes sense, like in many traditional methods of manufacturing,” Ewan said. “If that’s possible, I think [direct metal print- ing] will be one more tool along with metal casting, subtractive methods like CNC machining and other manufacturing methods. Tey all kind of dovetail—where one is strong, another is weak.” Even if 3-D metal printing be-

comes more widespread in manufac- turing, the technology is a potential partner for a hybridized production method. Just as 3-D-printed molds

allow investment casting facilities to have rapid prototyping capabilities, direct metal printing may provide the industry with improved capabilities. Metalcasters, and other manufactur- ers, may be able to use the technology to produce parts faster, increasing efficiency in the current supply chain. “A lot of people have this misun- derstanding of additive manufactur- ing that it’s going to be a technol- ogy that will displace many of the traditional manufacturing processes like milling and grinding,” said Snow. “But it’s the exact opposite. We need to coexist and depend on each other for secondary finishing. We don’t see this as a threatening technology to the current structure of manufactur- ing. It’s a complementary piece of equipment that’s another tool on the factory floor.” 3-D printing, including the addi-

tive manufacturing of metal parts, will continue to be a hot topic in the years to come. Te developing technology is definitely worth following, even if its significance in manufacturing ap- pears to be gradually increasing in the coming years and decades. “People hint about the third

industrial revolution that’s going to change everything,” Caffrey said. “But a more realistic scenario is a sophisti- cated contract manufacturer will have a factory floor that’s going to have all kinds of machine tools. Te more high tech operations may have cast- ings capabilities, and they may have additive metal technology.” ■


Photo courtesy of GE Aviation

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60