Can the Metal Industry Use Additive Manufacturing for New Advancements?

Being a limited application set, AM cannot compete for a more significant portion of the mainstream production applications, until and unless its speed and costs justify its use over any geometric advantages.

FREMONT, CA :If additive manufacturing (AM) is considered as a solution for production, then it needs to play by the rules of production, which means speed and cost will be regarded as essential measures of success. It is a diverse and plain evaluation of the role and effectiveness of AM than what it is subject to.

More particularly, the qualification for the machine is the chosen production process for the part designs that cannot be generated in any other way. It designs with the help of leveraging AM’s freedom to produce internal features of the part, complex geometries like lattices, and complex forms like topology-optimized structures.

Some companies come up with advanced AM technology that aims to bring production additive manufacturing into computer numerical control (CNC) machine shops by offering speed and cost equivalent to the pacing and tool pricing typical of CNC machining. Both the speeds, as well as the price stats, come with qualifiers.  In order to complete the printed metal part from the machine, it needs a furnace for sintering, which includes hours to the lead time for a batch of parts. But the manufacturers avail production metal-additive technology in the range of what they pay for production metal-cutting tools.

The AM process, binder jetting, involves a binding agent that bonds metal powder layer after layer, and produces green parts that achieve their ultimate hardness and density in sintering, without melting of metals. The released powder gives support to the elements during the build, which means there are no support structures that have to be discarded after 3D printing, and the pieces can be settled in all three dimensions.

One of the most important and potential applications of the mixed production abilities is as an alternative to casting when it comes to machine shops. With production metal AM, shops will be able to print its near-net-shape parts when needed, without any lead time from an external supplier. Printing instead of casting as the near-net-shape process shows that there is no tooling involved, and the parts can be produced with geometries. Once the AM machines compete for production opportunities, then the extra profits of the additive process will come as an added benefit.

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