Page 14 - 3D Metal Printing Winter 2019
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From Prototyping
to Production
 The evolution continues as manufacturers move 3D printing toward Industry 4.0. BY BERTRAND HUMEL VAN DER LEE
Less than a decade ago, talk of addi- tive manufacturing (AM) used in manufacturing environments was considered by many as just something for techies to discuss in the abstract. In other words, hype. Despite significant invest- ment and increasing adoption that spanned more than 30 years, a substantial knowledge gap existed. Today, however, the knowledge gap is narrowing, with early adopters figuring out how to best harness AM and metal 3D printing in various man- ufacturing environments.
How Did We Get Here?
To appreciate how far 3D printing has come requires an understanding of AM and its journey to date. The hype surround- ing industrial AM began with rapid proto- typing, the process of full-scale model cre- ation through additive processes, which gained its start in the late 1980s. Rapid prototyping enables design freedom and expedites iterations during prototyping, which requires engineers to test and fail fast in order to discover what works. There- fore, AM serves to validate designs in a way that reduces time, labor and resources and enables a faster time to market.
Over time, AM expanded from a trusted technology for rapid prototyping to ful-
and Beyond
filling low-volume production require- ments as the technology and worker skills advanced. And the journey continues towards full production ramp-up, includ- ing in-process quality control, integration, automation and entire AM supply chains, to name a few.
3D Printing’s First Movers
Three industries are widely recognized as advancing 3D printing: medical, aero- space and automotive.
The medical field, with its focus on personalized healthcare, now has the abil- ity to address orthopedic issues with 3D- printed implants designed for individual patient needs. The growing use of AM for prosthetics provides new opportunities to offer personalized surgical experiences that cater to the individual patient’s unique anatomical makeup. For example, Bodycad, with headquarters in Quebec, Canada, and Park City, UT, makes custom orthopedic restoration and uses 3D imag- ing to map a personalized image of a patient’s knee before using 3D printing to create precise custom cutting tools and prosthetic replacements.
3D printing also allows engineers to simplify processes, such as adding a porous surface layer to implants to ensure better osteointegration. Traditional meth- ods included a secondary step of spraying on this porous surface, while additive methods integrate this step into a singular build process. This also eliminates risk of delamination between the coating and
Bertrand Humel van der Lee is chief customer operations officer at Germany- based EOS, with U.S. operations in Novi, MI, and Pflugerville, TX.
the solid portion of the implant. Delami- nation causes the layers to separate and has significant consequences for ortho- pedic implants.
The aerospace industry faces its own unique set of challenges. Almost all of aerospace today is powered by fossil fuels. With more people flying today than ever before, the negative impact on our envi- ronment continues to compound over time. Aerospace OEMs and airlines are looking to reduce their carbon footprint by making planes lighter and engines more efficient. Boeing, which recently partnered with Oerlikon to create standard processes for 3D-printed titanium structures, has invested in the technology since 1997 with more than 50,000 3D-printed parts weigh-

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