Additive manufacturing is becoming quite popular in the metal industry. How is it disrupting the oldest manufacturing methods?
FREMONT, CA: Additive manufacturing (AM) is one of the latest manufacturing techniques, which is disrupting metal casting, the conventional manufacturing technique.
AM is utilized in hybrid manufacturing approaches, where it creates the fixtures, jigs, and tools that are used to manufacture parts through conventional methods. In fact, probably, 3D printing is one of the most convenient and least risky ways of incorporating AM into the production.
For metal casting, binder jetting is the best choice of AM process. In this, a liquid binder is utilized to glue the material together layer by layer for creating a part. In this scenario, the material being 3D printed is sand, the binder is foundry-grade resin, and the part is the mold core or sand mold. As usual, a part is designed in CAD, however rather than converting it into a pattern, and the 3D solid model is inverted to create a negative of the part. Then sprues, risers, runners, and gates are added. The resultant 3D solid model is of the model itself, which is later 3D printed by using binder jetting.
Similar to most AM processes, making use of binder jetting for 3D sand printing provides new design freedoms, which is not possible to have with traditional casting processes. For example, there is no requirement of a pattern anymore as one just has to print the mold directly. This process helps in saving time, and it also relieves one from the worry about the draft angels and undercuts as the need for removing a pattern from the mold is eliminated. In addition, cores can be printed straightforwardly into the sand mold, eliminating the issues associated with alignment that plague so many castings. Meanwhile, sprues and risers can be optimized for enhanced flow as their geometry is not limited by how the mold is made.
Binder jetting sand molds and cores are possibly the most affordable AM process for metal casting in the market right now. The speed with which the sand mold is printed by it is incredible. Besides, it helps in saving time by not making patterns, and the enterprise case for metal casting with 3D sand printing is entirely different. It is possible to rapidly prototype and iterates new designs for cars, trucks, and construction vehicles by using functional components created through 3D sand printing, and more sophisticated geometries enable by this form of hybrid manufacturing.
The metal casting industry is known for its economics and opportunities. Therefore the companies should ready themselves for iterating this quickly on new designs and parts.