Additive Manufacturing (AM) processes have gained importance and application in various fields of product development because of their maximum capabilities in comparison with the conventional production methods. The main benefits of additive manufacturing are the fast and tool-free production of advanced net-shaped geometries.
If properly implemented, the additive manufacturing method can remarkably decrease the generation of material waste, the production steps as being held in the inventory, plus can reduce the number of distinct parts required for an assembly.
The 1990’s rapid prototyping can no way be termed as the additive manufacturing technology to which we have access today. In the current generation, it is all about industry-grade 3D printers the advanced 3D printing methods; better and cheaper lasers, require more materials, include smaller machines with broader footprints, has Management and Professional design allowable, and so on.
Advantages and Disadvantage
As every new technology comes with certain pros and cons, so does the additive manufacturing that the engineers go through during the trials and errors.
Advantages of Additive Manufacturing
The metal additive manufacturing method is not just about technology, there are certain functional benefits of AM:
1. Rare Shape-Making Ability
Additive manufacturing is an interesting industrial procedure- for manufacturing certain complex or unusual shapes- which are otherwise difficult to produce following other conventional procedures. Design software facilitates the AM procedure to create any geometric pattern, including honeycombs or hollow spaces while maintaining stability and reducing weight.
In this regard, consider PM-based (powder metallurgy) 3D printing on steroids.
2. Manufacturing + Assembly in 1
An Additive Manufacturing line can manufacture multiple components at the same time. Rather than producing the parts individually and assembling them later, an additive manufacturer can merge both the part creation and assembly into a singular procedure.
3. Even Less Waste
Additive manufacturing is mostly associated with less waste material. In any manufacturing, the amount of waste generated is always less, even in AM. However, in 3D printing, even a little amount of waste can be a problem because of higher material costs.
Disadvantages of Additive Manufacturing
1. Very Costly Technology
The AM technology requires a considerable capital cost to buy the equipment required to implement additive manufacturing. This expensive technique, whether you are conducting in-house 3D printing or outsourcing the same, can hardly be justified compared to the traditional procedures.
Plus, the engineers, who specify the materials for the AM process, always prefer very small or fine particles or distribution. As a result, the cost of raw material skyrockets the overall project budget. This cost is even higher if the gas needs to be atomized or the powder to be spherical.
2. No Mixing Allowed
The mechanical features of an end product depend upon the type of powder (its characteristics) used in the AM process.
Typically, a pre-alloyed material is applied in base powder in additive manufacturing. Why? There is no alternative method of introducing additional traits and materials successfully later in the 3D printing procedure.
You are out of fortune if the alloying material is not present in the process right from Step 1. So, it is important to add all the required characteristics and materials you want to get in the final output.
3. It’s Slow, and Niche
Industrial adaptation to AM procedure was quite slow and still considered a niche method even in 2019. The reason is that additive manufacturing is yet not an effective way of manufacturing a high volume of parts.
Remember the AM’s ability to manufacture multiple parts at a time? Good thing, as it is otherwise a snail-like procedure. It takes about 2 to 3 hours, depending on your desired shape which conventional PM could do within 5 to 10 seconds only.
Unless you have such a unique design to create which isn’t possible to produce using any other process, it is best not to apply the 3D printing method. Even if your designed pattern is a true unicorn, it is better to adjust the pattern shape rather than the manufacturing technique.
Going global with Additive Manufacturing
Though it is too early to say this; additive manufacturing is expected to skyrocket the market to $20 billion by 2020. McKinsey predicts that the effect of the AM industry could stimulate the profit value to $250 billion by the year 2025. The Indian 3D printing market is solely expected to be worth around Rs. 585 crores (approx $79 million) by 2021.
Not just that, the BMW Group has already established a new additive manufacturing facility worth €15 million. The idea behind this is to “industrialize 3D printing,” and reduce the production time across the company. Added to that, the center is expected to house about 50% global of AM capacity of the automotive companies, comprising 50 metal 3D printers and industrial polymer printers. Through this centralization of 3D printing resources, BMW aims to accelerate AM integration, and further robotize the design and production processes.
Where Additive Manufacturing is used?
The aerospace industry was one of the first to embrace additive manufacturing. Certain heavy industry performance standards come under this realm, requiring parts that can withstand harsh conditions. Engineers designing and manufacturing for military and commercial aerospace sectors require flight-worthy components developed from quality-performance materials.
The medical industry is rapidly innovating by utilizing additive manufacturing solutions for providing help and services to the patients, doctors, and research institutions. Medical manufacturers are making use of a wider variety of sturdy, durable, and biocompatible 3D printing materials, from opaque to transparent and rigid to flexible to create customized designs like never before.
Life in conveyance business relates to the tolerance level to deal with tough environmental conditions, including extreme heat and speeds. The transportation industry requires sturdy, lightweight, and durable parts that can withstand rough handling and dragging. So, these companies are using additive manufacturing technology to develop an array of rugged, high-temperature resistant material based geometric designs for their vehicles.
With the advancement of 3D printing technology in terms of speed and output volume, consumer product manufacturers have embraced 3D printing technique to quickly adjust designs and help develop iterations. As Additive Manufacturing has evolved with time in producing efficiently lightweight, on-demand, and eco-friendly materials, a number of consumer products may gradually turn to AM technology to fulfill the large-scale demand for diverse requirements.