The quest for metal lightweighting - the ability to make parts lighter – is prompting a whole new way to think about design and manufacture.
A key enabler of lightweighting is metal additive manufacturing – also known as metal 3D printing – which produces high quality, complex parts that are impossible to achieve through traditional manufacturing processes.
To learn more, The Manufacturer caught up with Patrick Dunne, vice president of advanced application development at 3D Systems.
How is manufacturers’ awareness (and adoption) of metal lightweighting growing?
Patrick Dunne: We have seen a steady state in the application of lightweighting using metal additive manufacturing over the last 12 months driven primarily by aerospace, specifically the satellite market, and high performance automotive, are markets where the value response for additive is significant. Low volume but of very high value.
Can you offer a bit more detail around the key areas that metal lightweighting is asserting itself?
With satellite manufacturing and high performance automotive, specifically motorsports, it’s all about efficiency and system performance. Lighter weight parts in space systems reduce cost for orbital lift and mainly allow more product to be lifted for the same cost as before.
For motorsports, specifically Formula 1, lighter weight means faster cars that win races and get more sponsorship money. Weight is a very significant factor for both hence reducing grams can yield a signal response
Can you offer a real-world example where metal lightweighting has really delivered benefit?
A great example is the new satellite brackets for Thales Alenia, redesigned by applying algorithmic topological structural design. The team was able to reduce the weight of each bracket by 25% while maintaining the same functional performance.
This alone pulled several kilograms out of the system reducing cost or in this case allowing additional feature functionality to be added to other parts of the system.
This eBook is for curious and competitive businesses, engineers, and designers who want to unlock the advantages metal 3D printing has to offer.
We will start with some basic concepts and definitions, provide actual and theoretical application examples, and share some design and manufacturing strategies you can incorporate to optimise your outcomes.
Driving up fuel efficiency, while cutting operating costs and emissions: in aviation, aerospace, automotive or motorsports – it’s the same challenge. And the answer is – lighter parts.
What are some of the challenges associated with metal lightweighting and what has 3D Systems done to overcome those challenges?
There are several aspects to light-weighting, (1) the design, and, (2) are the mechanical characteristics of the alloy incorporated within the part itself.
As material is removed at the CAD level it’s critical that the downstream process is able to deliver a part that crosses a certain threshold in both mechanical properties as well as a threshold in risk reduction.
Within 3D Systems the expertise available covers both ends of this equation: We support the advanced design capabilities as well as provide tools and expertise in the form of printers, process and materials that yield part properties with high levels of performance (Specifically in Ti: Ductility and cyclic fatigue) combined in a process that guarantees we meet the stringent specifications required by the industry at hand.
What advice do you have for a business interested in exploring metal lightweighting?
Engage! Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) and additive manufacturing itself is absolutely the future of structural design, the lifecycle value response is significant.
What does the future of metal lightweighting hold?
Ultimately, significantly better products; lighter satellites, faster, more fuel-efficient cars. Additive allows us to make existing products better and new products possible.
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