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Design Rules for AM

August 11, 2019

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,CAD/CAM/CAE — Terry Wohlers @ 09:57

Little by little, companies are learning that it can be very different to design for additive manufacturing (DfAM). To make AM economical for production quantities, DfAM is usually necessary. As costs of the machines, materials, and post-processing are driven downward over time, this may change in some instances. For the foreseeable future, DfAM is not only useful, it’s a requirement.

When considering DfAM, we often think of using topology optimization, lattice structures, and other methods to reduce material and weight and potentially improve part functionality. Just as important are design rules and guidelines to reduce trial ‘n error among engineers and designers. This information usually comes from experience and tribal knowledge among very few at a company.

The previous guitar stand was designed by Olaf Diegel, an associate consultant and DfAM instructor at Wohlers Associates. The stand is cleverly designed to fold and unfold, as shown. The large hinge depicted at the left requires a surface gap of 0.4 mm (0.016 inch) for it to operate so that it is not too tight or lose. A smaller hinge, shown in the center, requires a gap of 0.3 mm (0.012 inch) because the rotating surface area is much less. Making the gap larger would result in a hinge that’s too lose.

Olaf has learned many rules and guidelines from his extensive experience with DfAM, AM, and post-processing parts. They often differ from process to process and material to material. Many of these methods of DfAM will be discussed at a special three-day DfAM course in Frisco, Colorado next month. If you’re transitioning to AM for production applications, you or your colleagues may want to attend this training. It could save your organization months or longer and help you determine if/when a part or assembly is a good candidate to produce by AM.

Selecting Parts for AM

July 28, 2019

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 16:26

Note: Ray Huff, associate engineer at Wohlers Associates, authored the following.

Adopting additive manufacturing (AM) for serial production is one of the biggest and most interesting recent trends in industry. Many companies want to know the secret of how to choose parts that are a good fit. Selecting the right parts is very specific to the process, material, product, and market, yet some overarching guidelines help in the process. For an in-depth discussion of these guidelines, and a handful of recent industry success stories, see our article titled DfAM insight: How to choose candidate products for AM production applications in Metal AM magazine.

Knowing the hallmarks of the AM process is key to succeeding in production. Low part quantities can be an easy win for small-batch production. As material and operating costs are driven downward, AM is expanding to larger production quantities. In a recent visit to Avid Product Development of Loveland, Colorado, I saw parts being produced on two HP Jet Fusion 4210 machines to fill an order of 100,000 pieces. Such quantities were unheard of in AM a few years ago. Parts produced in this volume are generally a few cubic inches or less. Their complex shape and features make them difficult to injection mold or process using another method.

Mechanical and functional requirements must be satisfied with the relatively narrow selection of materials available for AM. If new designs can reduce tooling, part numbers, assembly, and material costs, AM can become an excellent alternative to conventional manufacturing. Saving material, alone, can help make the business case for a high-cost titanium alloy, for example.

AM provides the opportunity to deliver parts quickly, although some regulatory requirements can slow things significantly. In heavily regulated markets such as aerospace, experience at certifying parts for AM is key. GE has been active at this longer than most, and it has put more than 500 different parts into production with AM, according to a recent conversation I had with Mohammad Ehteshami, former CEO of GE Additive. Other companies are working hard to keep pace. Honeywell has set a goal to have 250 parts in production by AM before the end of this year. To meet this goal, choosing the best parts for AM is crucial.

Martin and Short

July 15, 2019

Filed under: entertainment,event,review — Terry Wohlers @ 18:00

Steve Martin and Martin Short were in northern Colorado on Friday for a two-hour show filled with comedy and music. Martin and Short are among my favorite comedians. They have been in many movies and television programs such as the Three Amigos and Saturday Night Live. Martin also starred in Father of the Bride, The Jerk, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Parenthood, The Pink Panther, and many others.

The evening began with clips from classic movies and SNL skits to warm up the audience at Budweiser Event Center near Loveland. Martin and Short then appeared to a warm applause and launched into hilarious stories about friends, family, celebrities, and themselves. Throughout the evening, the two took many friendly jabs at one another. They had the audience laughing and in tears. I’m glad my wife and I, along with friends, attended the show.

In the coming weeks and months, Martin, 73, and Short, 69, will perform in other parts of the U.S., as well as in Canada and New Zealand. If you like good, live comedy from two of the very best, book an evening with them. You won’t regret it.

Ferries, Food, and Belugas

June 28, 2019

Filed under: travel — Terry Wohlers @ 08:56

Note: Ray Huff, associate engineer at Wohlers Associates, authored the following.

This month, I visited Hamburg, Germany for the first time. My immediate impression of the city was that it felt strangely like home. I took a plane, train, bus, and ferry (bottom right in the image) to get to my hotel, and passed by commuters, tourists, and people walking their dogs. People were going about their day just as they would anywhere else. Outside the large metropolitan area, I found lovely homes in the less crowded areas, such as the neighborhood where I stayed.

While in Hamburg, I enjoyed good food. Like a true millennial, I even took a picture of breakfast the second day. I had often heard that German food was not great. I would counter by saying that yes, it is not as exciting as Mediterranean food, but it fuels the body for a productive and meaningful day.

Terry and I visited the ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research (top left in the image), as well as the Airbus assembly plant in Hamburg. Both are impressive facilities. I could see why German engineering has such a reputation for quality. We even got a few sightings of Airbus transport planes, affectionately called “belugas” for their odd shaped hulls (top right in the image). These specialized aircraft are designed to carry major sections of other airplanes, and have been doing so since the early 1990s.

World Economic Forum

June 18, 2019

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event,future — Terry Wohlers @ 10:49

I attended a first-ever 3D printing and additive manufacturing event organized and hosted by the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco. The June 3, 2019 workshop, titled 3D Printing and Trade Logistics: Impact on Global Value Chains, involved 18 invited company executives, government officials, and others from many countries.

The World Economic Forum is an independent and non-profit international organization that engages political, business, and other leaders to shape global, regional, and industrial agendas. It serves as a platform to bring together public and private sector stakeholders to tackle global issues. In this context, the workshop was organized in two phases. The first explored significant issues that may be raised by the proliferation of 3D printing, followed by ways in which they might be addressed with many working together.

Venkataraman “Sundar” Sundareswaran of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp. did a fine job at organizing the workshop. He is currently serving as a fellow at the World Economic Forum to bring 3D printing to the forefront. The group of 18 participants split into three workgroups on three separate occasions to identify and prioritize major issues, followed by the generation of ideas for addressing them.

“Workforce displacement and skill gaps” was identified as the top issue. University and industry training, coupled with retraining programs and government incentives, were named as likely solutions. “Governance of IP, legal issues, cyber, trade, and customs” was ranked as the second biggest issue. Among the possible solutions: national strategies, new laws, technology, and self-regulation. “Supply chain disruption” was determined as the third most important issue. The group cited new taxation models from government and standards development, principally by industry, as ways to address it.

The next challenge and opportunity for the World Economic Forum is to tackle these issues. A good foundation has been set. I’m looking forward to staying engaged and helping however we can to advance the development and adoption of 3D printing technology worldwide.

Lee Kuan Yew

June 4, 2019

Filed under: future,life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 16:15

I recently finished a book titled Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World. Lee Kuan Yew, commonly referred to as LKY, was the first Prime Minister of Singapore and served in this capacity for three decades. I am unaware of another person with such clarity of understanding in so many parts of the world. His knowledge and insight are extraordinary.

In easy to understand language, LKY drilled down deeply into the past, present, and future of China, India, the U.S., and other parts of the world. His wide-ranging discussions included geopolitical, social, economic, healthcare, education, and religion. He even discussed how a dominant language in a given country, such as China, will impact its future.

The book is written in question/answer format, which is a little unusual. The content, however, made up for it. Amazon customer reviews—103 total—gave it 4.9 out of 5 stars. I recommend it highly.

DfAM in Germany

May 18, 2019

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,CAD/CAM/CAE,education,future — Terry Wohlers @ 05:33

Design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) is not easy. That’s why we have been offering DfAM courses since 2015. Our first two were for NASA Marshal Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. We have since conducted courses in other parts of the U.S., as well as in Australia, Belgium, Canada, and South Africa. Our most recent course was held with Protolabs 2.5 weeks ago near Raleigh, North Carolina. It could not have gone much better.

Our first DfAM course in Germany will occur next month in cooperation with Airbus and ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research. ZAL is hosting the event in Hamburg and we are very excited about it. Already, people from many countries in Europe and North America have registered to attend.

Other DfAM courses are being planned. Our second annual Design at Elevation DfAM course is September 2019 in Frisco, Colorado. Elevation: 2,774 meters (9,097 feet). Attend the course in Hamburg, but if you cannot, visit the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado in September—the most colorful month of the year.

3D-Printed Figurines

May 4, 2019

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 14:20

3D scanning and printing tools make it possible to produce color figurines of action figures, pets, our kids, and a lot more. Prior to our daughter’s wedding last July, we decided to produce a custom cake topper of her and her fiancé. Our company has worked with 3D scanning in the past, but we had not dealt with this level of detail in some time.

The following images show the 3D prints from the scan data. Those in the processing tray at the right were produced in photopolymer on a Mimaki 3DUJ-553 color 3D printing system. The others were produced in a gypsum-based material on a color binder-jetting system owned and operated by LGM.

Many contributed to the effort. An amusing summary of the work was presented in an excellent article published in the May 2019 issue of Mechanical Engineering magazine from ASME. My sincere thanks to the following people and companies for their help with this project:

Thanks also to our daughter, Heather, and son-in-law, Bayne, for going along with the idea and dressing up twice for both sets of 3D scans.

Factors Contributing to AM Growth

April 20, 2019

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 08:32

The additive manufacturing (AM) industry came within about $200 million from producing $10 billion in products and services last year. This is based on research for Wohlers Report 2019. What’s more, it grew by nearly 62% over the past two years. What’s driving this impressive growth?

Many factors, working in harmony with one another, are contributing to strong AM growth worldwide. Among them are a renewed focus on:

  • Design for additive manufacturing (DfAM)
  • Education and training
  • Post-processing and post-process automation
  • Materials diversification
  • Custom products and low-volume manufacturing
  • Partnerships and collaborations
  • Startup companies
  • Viable supply chains
  • Data, security, and interconnectivity
  • Investment in applications
  • Corporate centers of excellence

These and other factors are discussed in detail in Part 8 of Wohlers Report 2019.

U.S. Comeback in AM

April 7, 2019

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 15:20

Is the U.S. making a comeback in additive manufacturing? Some might question whether the U.S. had fallen back in its position. In the 2000s, the U.S. definitely lost ground in a number of areas to the likes of China and Germany. One area is in the production of industrial AM systems, which are those that sell for more than $5,000. Consider that 52 manufacturers—32 Chinese and 20 German—produced and sold industrial AM systems in 2018, according to our research for Wohlers Report 2019, which was published less than two weeks ago.

The number of companies producing industrial AM systems may be an interesting metric, but it is only one of several used to measure a country’s position in AM. Others, such as the adoption and use of AM, are arguably more important, but difficult to measure. Due to widespread and hard-to-trace growth in many regions of the world, data is not as forthcoming as it was 10+ years ago. Even so, the U.S. is believed to be home to more than one-third of all industrial AM systems. This compares to 10.6% in China and 8.3% in Germany, as shown in the following chart. It represents cumulative installations from 1988 through 2018.

The number of manufacturers of industrial AM systems grew by 50% to 33 last year in the U.S., which was a surprise to some. Also, we believe the U.S. is at or near the top in R&D related to AM hardware, software, applications, and services, compared to other countries. Whether one considers the number of system manufacturers, the adoption of systems, or R&D spending, the U.S. is in a solid position with competitive nations worldwide.

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