What’s possible with additive manufacturing – Additive 2016

Posted on 21 Apr 2016 by Jonny Williamson

Beyond being a design tool, additive manufacturing remains an underutilised technology; AMTLN's flagship conference - Additive 2016, provides the opportunity to hear the real facts on what's possible with additive manufacturing and how to embrace it within your business.

A 2015 survey conducted by The Manufacturer highlighted confusion in the manufacturing sector around whether or not to embrace additive manufacturing technology and 3D printing, what was possible with the technology, and whether to use it for innovation or production strategy.

Additive 2016 offers an insight into the most innovative businesses that have taken additive manufacturing and applied it to their manufacturing processes, including Rolls Royce, BAE SystemsGKN and HiETA Technologies.

AMTLNAlong with searching Twitter for the hashtag #Additive2016, The Manufacturer’s Editorial team will be providing you with rolling coverage from all of the sessions, so remember to refresh your browser and allow us to keep you up to date.

The strategy for digital manufacturing within Industry 4.0

Clare Marett – head of manufacturing, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS):

“Productivity levels in manufacturing are above the whole economy average because they tend to be more capital intensive than services.”

“Though employment has been in decline, it has been more resilient recently, the decline has levelled off.”

“Manufacturing is undergoing a revolution – the fourth industrial revolution – as digitisation of industry transforms capability and activity on a global scale.”

“Connectivity is going to become ubiquitous – smart products from smart factories via smart supply chains.”

“Digital is already transforming the UK lead in high-tech sectors, such as engineering design, aerospace and automotive.”

“Challenges facing this digital revolution in the UK – leadership and management; SME awareness & adoption; global pace; digital infrastructure; skills, and disruptive business models.”

“The other key issue is the UK’s track record in investment, which has historically ranked poorly versus the OECD.”

“There isn’t a currently a coherent, consistent strategy for the UK regarding the fourth industrial revolution, which is a problem.”

“Additive Manufacturing UK 2025 Strategy is designed to be industry-led, primarily for an industrial audience, and targeted at market opportunities; focused on self-supporting activity that taps into existing resources and activities.”

“What we want to know from you, is this UK strategy towards Additive Manufacturing relevant, and how urgent is it needed?”

Beyond the hype – additive manufacturing in practice

Vukile Dumani – qualification and test lead, GKN Aerospace Additive Manufacturing Centre:

“Why is Additive Manufacturing like the Great British Bake Off? Use the best ingredients, optimise the process, combine the two together and produce amazing products.”

“But you can’t make money during the Great British Bake Off; so why Additive Manufacturing is like generic sliced bread? Source the most affordable/suitable ingredients; map, test and optimise/standardise the process, produce multiple, repeatable parts that meet customer requirements.”

“Additive manufacturing is currently viewed by many as being special. What we want to do is to enable additive manufacturing to be viewed as ‘generic’.”

“To allow that, we take a holistic approach that maps all aspects of manufacturing, including pre and post processing, and not focusing only on the additive process. Make the distinction between those processes that are specific to additive manufacturing and those that are generic to standard manufacturing. Design experiments that define, freeze, control and standardise the entire manufacturing process variables.”

“The real value in additive manufacturing is in the definition of geometry coupled with well understood material properties.”

“Companies in the UK need to work together better because the materials they are working with are all pretty much the same. We need to define the specification together, like they do in Germany. We are too siloed, even though the people in many companies are doing the same thing, we need more collaboration.”

The practical integration of additive manufacturing as a production process

Ian Halliday – CEO, 3T RPD Ltd:

“The additive manufacturing journey – starts off with the known knowns and the known unknowns; but the most tricky category is the unknown unknowns.”

“One of the big challenges which faces our industry is powder removal. Removing trapped powder is something you need to be aware of, but currently many people aren’t.”

“Additive manufacturing is only one part of a wider manufacturing system, you need processes both pre and post such as preparation and machining – i.e. milling, polishing or finishing.”

“It’s useful to have an R&D team exploring not only internal projects, but external as well. It helps to counter and minimise some of the unknown unknowns.”

“One piece of advice if you’re thinking of bringing additive manufacturing technology in-house, I would definitely recommend investing in a scanning electron microscope to help you gauge and assess the quality of your parts, vital to check you’re meeting customer requirements.”

“Both powder and machine management are incredibly important, as is health and safety – having nano particles of titanium for example can make their way into ventilation systems.”

Rolls Royce case study

Richard Mellor – chief of manufacturing engineering, Rolls Royce Additive Manufacturing Centre of Competence:

“Rolls Royce works across a wide range of powder technologies – metal injection moulding, net shape powder and additive layer manufacturing (ALM).”

“Key benefits of ALM – opportunity to quickly make highly complex shapes in difficult and expensive materials, and establish options not possible using conventional techniques. We have to do this in an environment that is incredibly demanding.”

“Rolls Royce has been developing an ALM/3D printing knowledge base for more than a decade. We have already developed ALM for the repair of some of our highly complex components.”

“We’ve gone beyond one-off parts. If the true opportunity of ALM is to be realised, we have to industrialise the process.”

“Rolls Royce insists on comprehensive demonstrations, spanning target products, whole engine and flight demos, core integration vehicles and component technologies. ALM is no different.”

“Our approach to additive manufacturing is having a deep understanding – that’s crucially important. It also focuses on product integrity. Once we understand these things we can become intelligent users, and then we can be intelligent customers.”

“A typical validation journey for ALM – setting the requirements (design values and properties); coupon testing (powder characterisation); process optimisation of components; additive materials data, and validated fixed process.”

“In November 2015, we flew – and are still flying – the largest additive manufacturing aero engine part to date in the Trent XWB-97. The component in question was the front bearing housing, a significant load-bearing part.

“Why did we do it? To understand the technology; to deliver these assemblies more rapidly than conventional techniques, including the opportunity to make improvements; it gave us tens of 1,000’s of hours of printing experience, and pioneered the use and development of large EBM systems. This strong foundation allows us to go on and do more”

From idea to series production with additive manufacturing

Daniel Daryaie – additive manufacturing expert, Materialise:

“Why use 3D printing for manufacturing? To address the relentless drive to shorten time-to-market and spark additional commercial opportunities. Conventional route is product development; tool development; tool production, and production. With additive manufacturing, it’s simply product development and production.”

“Another reason is to reduce not only time, but cost – particularly of high value, low volume parts.”

“Additive manufacturing is a complimentary technology to augment traditional manufacturing techniques – it’s not an outright replacement.”

“We are seeing small series production becoming key in a lot of markets, such as medical devices and manufacturing tools for example.”

“Additive manufacturing also helps to surpass design limitations imposed by the more traditional, manual manufacturing processes and techniques. Design freedom can help when you want to integrate more functionality; reduce weight; create a design that stands out, and when you want to make every product unique.”

“One of the biggest challenges when implementing additive manufacturing is sustaining the momentum behind the change.”

“An additive manufacturing ‘factory of the future’ allows you to ensure repeatability and achieve efficient processes, among other benefits.”

“Key takeaways are; define the right applications for additive manufacturing is absolutely key, and align design organisations with product organisations to harness the design freedom in function of additive manufacturing production.”

The role of digital manufacturing in the foundry industry

Antony Middleton – senior product engineer, Grainger and Worrall:

“Engine casting requirements mean the part has to contain a series of “explosions” without failure, remove waste heat from combustion process, and cope with being constantly pushed to reduce wall thickness and weight.”

“Thirty years ago a project would start with design, tooling would begin production around week 10 and subsequently sampled in week 13, and validated in week 16. A few weeks later, the tooling would be cast and then finally machined around week 24.”

“Today, new technologies – such as CAD, CNC, and CT, real-time X-ray digital validation solutions – mean that this entire process happens in a six-week turnaround.”

“We are currently using two 3D printers – a 800 mm x 500 mm x 400 mm S-print, 10-hour build time machine, utilising a phenol binder system for two sands (silica and cerabead); and a 1,800 mm x 1,000 mm x 700 mm S-MAX.”

“The big advantages of using additive manufacturing for us is no added cost for complexity or delicate features, all with standard foundry materials. It also offers freedom of design, bringing added feature integration, add complexity and reduced assembly.”

“Additive manufacturing also allows us to produce specials – such as high performance variants or custom applications – with a far quicker route to market.”

“We want to design smarter, focusing on the right tool for the job – so selectively using additive manufacturing, and offer value added manufacturing – i.e. removing costs by adding functionality.

“When exploring additive manufacturing, consider how it will impact your production workflow, and find the right metrics to measure a successful implementation – i,e. cost and parts per hour.”

Additive manufacturing – your supply chain

Sean Gallagher – additive manufacture development engineer, BAE Systems Military Air & Information:

“Introducing additive manufacturing as an agile and disruptive technology is just one of several we are exploring.”

“Shortly, our current prime manufacturing customer contracts will be concluded, so we will likely become increasingly dependent on export sales and see the business move from moderate volume / low variety to low volume.”

“Our additive manufacturing facility was established in early 2015, and it was really put in place to challenge our manufacturing processes and provide a platform to take commercial and academic equipment, and apply it to our production environment in a safe, reliable manner.”

“Our purpose-built New Product & Process Development Centre produced 2,500+ parts in 2015, with a 20+ strong team.”

“What has the Centre delivered to the business? Airframe development, and over 200 non-airframe components each month, alongside wind tunnel models; ground and component protective equipment; training aids; production tooling, and demonstration modelling.”

“Routes taken to qualification for airframe applications – assess = design = validate. Assessment isn’t a one-off stage, both design and validation feed back into iterative assessment steps. Ultimately, that validation leads to qualification.”

“What are the challenges for BAE Systems Military Air & Information for additive manufacturing? Materials and consistency within the supply chain; IP protection; design; lack of standardisation; measurement and inspection; investment finance, and skills, education and awareness.”

“Is the supply chain prepared for additive manufacturing? OEMs like us are becoming smart customer of additive technologies. As demand increases, is there a sizeable supply chain capability to meet it?”

Additive manufacturing – validating a maturing engineering methodology

Alex Redwood – design engineer, HiETA TEchnologies:

“We are an SME mainly involved in power-based SLM, and design, engineer and manufactur additive manufacturing solutions.”

“To generate fit for purpose parts, control at each stage of the production process is required. With traditional manufacturing of billets, the final quality of the part was largely dependent on the quality of the starting material; that’s not the case so much for additive manufacturing.”

“For us, the most important aspects of powders are particle size and shape; chemical composition; flow ability, and certificate of conformity.”

“At HiETA, controlling the environment to obtain high quality, repeatable results is crucial.”

“Additive manufacturing is a maturing manufacturing technique, differentiating itself from the rapid prototyping stigma.”

“With an appropriate level of control applied, you can achieve reliable and repeatable components at an acceptable cost.”

“The challenge for us to commercialise additive manufacturing is firstly; identifying appropriate products, secondly; diversifying the range to encompass products that don’t require such in-depth validation, and thirdly; bringing the machine time down.”

Revolutionising production tooling with additive manufacturing

Yann Rageul – strategic account director, Stratasys:

“The big revolution that is happening in additive manufacturing at the moment is focused around multi-material printing.”

“Approxiamtely 80% of customers using our Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) systems are using the technology to create jigs and fixures/assembly aids.”

“Additive manufacturing helps in regards to quality control as complex, ergonomic and lightweight geometry are produced easily from part CAD files.”

“Thanks to additive manufacturing, surrogate casting models can be produced quickly and easily – helping to reduce lead time and risk.”