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INTRODUCING FIGURE 4 MODULAR SCALE TO NEW APPLICATIONS WITH INNOVATIVE MATERIALS
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from the editor
“This industry will not get anywhere without collaboration.” Those were the words of Valuechain’s Jim Walters during a discussion at an event celebrating the end of a successful first day at RAPID + TCT 2019. Jim should know, seeing as Valuechain’s DNA AM software was designed alongside Airbus in order to enable scalability of AM in the aerospace sector. Judging by the booths of the exhibitors at the Cobo Center, Detroit, the AM industry is waking up to the power of collaboration. Guyson and HP. Origin and BASF. Yaskawa and 3D Platform Fives and Michelin. Loctite and EnvisionTEC. EOS and DyeMansion. Dyndrite and Renishaw Those are just a few of the names and logos I spotted walking around the show floor with the idea of collaboration percolating. These companies are proudly showing how they are working together as opposed to competing or running a program of acquisitions, as was the trend four years ago. One such company is Loctite; the division of the Henkel Corporation was at RAPID + TCT promoting partnerships with OEMs like EnvisionTEC and Origin. “From an eco-system standpoint we realised early on that we’re not a 3D printing hardware manufacturer,” said Carlos Puente, Manager, Market and Customer Activation - 3D Printing at Loctite. “We took a step back and took a look at our hero products - the materials, the chemistry, and the science.” Thankfully, we’ve stepped away from that idea of a ‘we do it all’ 3D printing company; you’re not going to find an organisation telling you that you simply need their 3D printer and voila, you have a manufacturing facility. Such is the understanding of attendees now; the likelihood is even if you did claim that you’d be laughed out of town. Another point Jim Walters of Valuechain made, and a point stressed by several others like Todd Grimm, is that even if there was a one-size-fits-all solution, companies like Airbus don’t want to work with just one company, they want to be technology agnostic and use what works. Collaboration also appears to bring out the honesty in the process; it’s refreshing to see that steps like post-processing or non-intrusive scanning are no longer 3D printing’s dirty little secret (I once saw a company cleaning parts hidden behind the pop-up on stand) but seen as powerful enablers of a move towards production. The week prior to RAPID + TCT at Matsuura’s open day back in the UK, the Japanese machine-tool OEM, now selling HP technology in the UK, told me that it was the automation of post-processing that had truly allowed them to massmanufacture a giveaway; going from a two-day manual hand clean to a tenminute bead blast (more on page 39). The proliferation of collaboration goes a long way to justifying why we put that plus symbol between RAPID and TCT in the first place.
RAPID + TCT = COLLABORATION
DANIEL O'CONNOR HEAD OF CONTENT
27.3 / www.tctmagazine.com / 05
VOLUME 27 ISSUE 3
8. INTRODUCING FIGURE 4 MODULAR
Cover star 3D Systems scales up its Figure 4 technology.
11. DON’T JUST WING IT
A look at the TCT Award-nominated carbon fibre wing repair kit from FDM Solutions.
13. MOOG’S CONNECTING FLIGHT TO DISTRIBUTED MANUFACTURING
Assistant Editor, Sam Davies finds out how Moog’s VeriPart platform is enabling true distributed networks for MRO.
17. AM FOR SPACE: WHAT’S GOING ON? Tony Mears at UK Space Agency discusses how AM is being engaged with by government for the UK space sector.
18. SPACE AND TIME
Sam Davies explores the additive manufacture of rockets in the new space age.
23. IN OTHER NEWS: PARIS AIR SHOW
We look ahead to one of the world’s most prestigious aerospace manufacturing events.
27. TO VC OR NOT TO VC, THAT IS THE QUESTION Head of Content, Daniel O’Connor speaks to Mike Littrell of CIDEAS and PAXIS about bringing a new AM technology to market.
31. TESTING SLS TO SUBSEA EXTREMES
How 3DPRINTUK helped Kongsberg Maritime produce a piece of subsea measuring equipment designed to survive in extreme conditions.
33. SOLVING A SPANNER IN THE WORKS
42. ONWARDS SINGAPORE
Dan reports back from a trip to NAMIC 2019 and an intriguing industry tour.
49. NEW RULES: SIMULATING THE AM WORKFLOW
Laura speaks to Brent Stucker at ANSYS about how simulation tools are keeping up with AM’s rapid rate of innovation.
Angus 3D on its implementation of Markforged’s Metal X machine.
35. RISE OF THE MACHINES
Deputy Group Editor, Laura Griffiths provides an update on the latest in machining, including hybrid systems.
RAPID + TCT 2019
52. RAPID + TCT: CONVERSATIONS FROM THE SHOW FLOOR Sam rounds-up the biggest updates and trends from Detroit.
36 Tooling, Jigs and Fixtures
36. TAKING THE WORK OUT OF WORKHOLDING
58. MOVING FORWARD
Todd Grimm discusses why incremental advances will accelerate AM growth.
Dan reports on a visit to Matsuura UK where he scored a hat-trick for this issue’s key focuses.
41. TOP REASONS TO USE 3D PRINTING FOR JIGS AND FIXTURES
Jesse Marin at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing on how to maximise 3D printing for some of the lowest hanging fruit.
INTRODUCING FIGURE 4 MODULAR WORDS: 3D SYSTEMS
STRAIGHTFORWARD SCALABILITY IN ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING
As a new product design inches closer to the production line, the issue of scalable production becomes a key focus for the engineering teams involved. As a production line begins to reach capacity, the primary concern of management revolves around scaling that capacity with minimal capital expenditure and maximal use of existing labour resources. Additionally, new innovative materials are required to enable new production workflows and applications to exist. As additive manufacturing (AM) has industrialised, it has gained new roles on the shop floor, well beyond its cornerstone task of prototyping. It meets a number of manufacturers’ needs by enabling immediate production on a wide variety of parts, is perfect for lights-out production and enables new product production to scale rapidly without the time and cost of tooling. However, these benefits do not excuse AM from its need to meet manufacturers’ standards for repeatability, reliability, accuracy, material properties, surface finish, and scalability of production capacity. The development of the Figure 4 3D printing platform by 3D Systems answered five of these six critical needs, and with the recent availability of the new Figure 4 Modular system, all six needs are fully addressed. Starting with just one or two modules linked to a single controller, Figure 4 Modular makes it possible to rapidly scale capacity with the addition of subsequent printer modules up to 24 units. Now it is possible to both immediately scale the production of new parts as well as scale capacity. Each additional printer module of the Figure 4 system brings the ability to produce a greater variety of parts simultaneously, using different materials engineered for the Figure 4 Modular system, including those with ABS-like, polypropylene-like, and elastomerlike properties. These highly robust materials
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BELOW: FIGURE 4 MATERIALS ENABLE A DIVERSE AND EXPANDING RANGE OF APPLICATIONS
are suitable for a diverse range of applications, including prototyping, production parts, and master patterns for urethane and investment casting, among others. The speed, accuracy, and material versatility of Figure 4 Modular are also enabling same-day jigs and fixtures to facilitate fast and accurate production, as well as opening new opportunities for texturing in both direct and indirect production workflows.
SHRINKING TIME-TO-PART WITH HIGH QUALITY AND EASE-OF-USE
The Figure 4 Modular 3D printer prints parts at speeds of up to 100 millimeters per hour. Given its rate of print speed, it is estimated that Figure 4 Modular is able to produce 10,000 plastic parts per month, making it an option for immediate production and immediate scaling when the demand for parts increases temporarily. Midwest Prototyping, an AM service bureau in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, is using a Figure 4 Modular system and experienced an immediate positive impact. According to Steve Grundahl, President and founder of the company, the speed and quality of the system are of tremendous value to the business: “We are very impressed with the resolution and the level of detail that we can get with the Figure 4 Modular. The speed is much faster than we’re used to with traditional (additive) technology. Being able to print very quickly and then have a relatively short post-cure operation [makes it possible to] print and ship, or print and deliver, in the same day.” Global sporting goods manufacturer, Decathlon has also found the speed of Figure 4 Modular impressive and capability-enhancing. “By incorporating the Figure 4 Modular into our design and development cycle, we have the potential for much higher productivity with a wider variety of material choices,” says Julien Guillen, AM leader, Decathlon.
In a comparison between its existing desktop SLA solution and Figure 4 Modular, Decathlon was able to arrive at the same quantity of tensile test parts 19 times faster. What took the previous system 29 hours to produce takes only 90 minutes on the Figure 4 Modular systems. “With features like automated material feed and job management, we are able to improve productivity and reduce costs associated with labour,” Guillen adds.
INJECTION MOULDED QUALITY IN ADDITIVE
3D Systems’ Figure 4 platforms are delivered with 3D Sprint, an allin-one AM software. Pairing these two technologies helps to meet the repeatability standard of injection moulding, even on fine feature details. “The quality of the final parts we are able to produce using the Figure 4 Modular is excellent,” said Chris Nicoll, Prototype Lab Manager, D&K Engineering. “Many of our engineers have commented, ‘This looks as good as a moulded part’ due to the excellent model conformity, surface finish, and physical properties. We can instantaneously create prototype parts, and small quantities of production parts, with injection-moulded quality. Figure 4 Modular is replacing other traditional technologies we currently use, decreasing our development cycle, shortening time-to-market, and dramatically increasing our productivity to better serve our customers.”
DIVERSE AND EXPANDING SELECTION OF MATERIALS
What makes 3D Systems’ Figure 4 technology so compelling is the diverse and expanding range of robust and high-quality materials that are already announced and available. The portfolio of materials for Figure 4 includes ABS-like materials, polyproylene-like, and elastomeric. The company recently introduced Figure 4 FLEX-BLK 10, a polypropylene-like material, which has flexible and durable properties, making it an ideal choice in a range of scenarios, from prototypes to concept models to master patterns and enduse parts. In Q3 2019, 3D Systems also expects to make available Figure 4 TOUGH-BLK 20, an ABS-like black material which boasts high UV stability and accuracy, making it suitable for production applications. In the summer of 2019, 3D Systems expects to release Figure 4 MED-AMB 10, a transparent amber biocompatible material, and towards the end of the year, the company plans to introduce Figure 4 HI-TEMP-AMB 250, a material with high-thermal resistance able to cater to applications like motor enclosures and tooling.
THE FIGURE 4 MODULAR PORTFOLIO OF MATERIALS INCLUDES: FIGURE 4 TOUGH-GRY 10: ABS-like dark grey material. Print speeds up to 100 mm/hr. For strong, rigid parts. FIGURE 4 TOUGH-GRY 15: ABS-like grey material. High strength & stability for short-run production of rigid parts at low cost. FIGURE 4 TOUGH-BLK 20: ABS-like black material. High UV stability & accuracy for production applications. Anticipated availability: Q3 2019. FIGURE 4 ELAST-BLK 10: Elastomeric black material. Excellent compressive characteristics for design & validation of rubber-like industrial & consumer goods parts. FIGURE 4 FLEX-BLK 10: Polypropylene-like black material. Flexible, durable. Ideal for functional assemblies, prototypes, master patterns for RTV/ silicone moulding, short-run production, and concept models. FIGURE 4 MED-AMB 10: Transparent amber biocompatible material. For consumer hightemperature applications and general medical applications requiring translucency, sterilisation, and/or thermal resistance. Anticipated availability: Q3 2019. FIGURE 4 HI-TEMP-AMB 250: High thermal-resistant material (HDT > 250C) for design verification testing, motor enclosures, and low-pressure moulding/tooling with transparency for flow visualisation. Anticipated availability: Q4 2019. SHOWN: FIGURE 4 MODULAR ENABLES MIDWEST PROTOTYPING TO DELIVER SAME DAY PARTS TO CUSTOMERS
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DON’T JUST WING IT WORDS: LAURA GRIFFITHS
ionic brackets, LEAP engines, smart parts; you would be hard pressed to find a highvalue area in aerospace where additive potential remains untapped. But what about those crucial day-to-day applications that can mean the difference between an aircraft taking off or grounded on the tarmac? The majority of today’s modern aircraft wings are manufactured with carbon fibre thanks to the composite materials’ strong and lightweight properties. Less weight means bigger fuel savings and reduced costs, but the complex make-up of carbon fibre also poses its own unique challenges for aircraft manufacturers. For one well-known aircraft OEM, a key pain point was discovered in the repair of carbon fibre wings during build. When a wing became damaged, the repair process would require the manufacturer to take the wing offline and painstakingly sand the carbon fibre back to allow new material to be built up in its place. To do that, heat must be applied to the correct area to speed up the cure timescale, which often means relying on a “hit and miss” approach affecting the quality and lead time projections. The manufacturer, based in the UK, turned to FDM Digital Solutions, a Burnley-based additive manufacturing engineering company specialising
primarily in aerospace and automotive sectors, to come up with a solution that would guarantee cure times for carbon repair. “Companies tend to have one massive jig, no matter how big or small the repair area is, it’s just not very efficient,” explains Tony Flanagan, Business Development Manager at FDM Digital. “This is a solution that allows people to be much more flexible and just focus on the repair that they actually need to do.” The solution was a new kit that would allow the manufacturer to direct heat to the appropriate area and improve overall repair quality. “It ensures that they can carry on working around an area being repaired rather than having to stop the job and there’s no delay to the build schedule,” adds Matt White, AM Solutions Lead Design Engineer at FDM Digital. Matt led the design of a new set of four applicators and a quick release clamp that could be attached to the heat blower and swapped out easily to enable any area on the wing to be cured within the correct timescale. HP’s Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 4200 system and PA12 powder were
selected for production chiefly due to the material’s high temperature resistance, essential to successfully curing the damaged areas. Matt notes how MJF’s robust material properties, compared to an alternative like Ultem, and consolidation of manufacturing steps were key enablers in bringing this application to fruition. In fact, FDM says it is now utilising the technology to produce around 90% of its tools. “We produce a lot of parts that are used in end-use applications such as checking fixtures,” Matt explained. “This is an everyday tool. Additive gives people the freedom to have something that they actually want rather than a machined item that’s not really what they need.” A total of five toolkits are now out in the field across various sites and in addition to being shortlisted in last year’s TCT Awards, FDM says it has also received interest from a number of additional aerospace companies facing similar challenges in their maintenance, repair and overhaul operations. Tony added: “We’ve got to the point now where major companies see an issue and even if they can’t think of what the solution might be, they recognise that additive manufacturing could be a solution.” SHOWN: QUICK RELEASE CLAMP ATTACHES TO HEAT BLOWER FOR REPAIRS
SHOWN: ADDITIVELY MANUFACTURED CARBON FIBRE WING REPAIR KIT
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MOOG’S CONNECTING FLIGHT TO DISTRIBUTED MANUFACTURING
ow much could you get done in the 12 hours between take-off and landing? Watch a couple of movies of questionable quality? Encourage yourself through a sub-standard meal? Catch a few hours of turbulence-disrupted sleep? Notice a faulty part, order its replacement, manufacture its replacement, and install it once back on the ground? Earlier this year, a Boeing 777-300 aircraft, bound for Los Angeles Airport (LAX) departing from Auckland (AKL), carried out a proof of concept centred around the simulation of a broken cabin part. Upon reaching cruising altitude, the crew radioed back to the Air New Zealand maintenance facility in Auckland to report a Business Premier bumper part p
WORDS: SAM DAVIES
which sits between seat and monitor to ensure the seat isn’t damaged when the screen is pushed back to default position - needed replacing. The maintenance team used its access to a digital catalogue of parts uploaded by Air New Zealand’s MRO provider, Singapore-based ST Engineering, and ordered a replacement component. ST Engineering identified the nearest certified 3D printing system to where the passenger plane was due to land and pushed the order through for Moog Aircraft Group to additively manufacture. This all happens at approximately 1am Pacific Time. By 7am, the mobile printer is deployed, printing the part ready for use well before the aircraft lands at 11am. Within 30 minutes of being on the tarmac, the part is replaced, and the plane can now complete its three more scheduled trips before returning to Auckland. “That’s a part that does fail on occasion,” Tim Abbott, Digital Transformation Manager, Moog, tells TCT. “It’s a product where the supply chain is not very responsive, they did not have physical inventory on that part, and even if they had it was not at their LAX facility. It would have been a 44-day lead time, [and] it would have cost them roughly 30,000 dollars in revenue loss for the three legs that they would not have been able to occupy that seat.” Moog has been working with extrusion and powder bed fusion additive manufacturing technologies for more than ten years, getting to grips with process control, material properties, machine-to-machine consistency, with a view to harnessing them for flight critical components further down the line. The company typically focuses on critical precision control
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systems, and specifically in the aircraft industry, mission-critical systems in primary and secondary flight control. About five years ago, around the time Abbott came on board, the company’s thoughts around additive began exceeding rapid prototyping and quick tooling, reaching for other benefits of the technology. “We did something called scenario-based planning where you put yourself in a situation in the future where you can envision the value being added and then work backwards to identify where the gaps are that you need to fill to get there,” Abbott recalled. “This had a commercial and military aspect. You put yourself in a scenario where an operator has a critical need for a part, they have an aircraft down, they have access to a 3D printer and you’d be able to produce the part at the point of use, the time of need, creating a drastic reduction in lead time, creating higher operational flexibility, and on the commercial side, reducing revenue loss.” Moog’s answer to this hypothetical, yet likely scenario is VeriPart, the programme which catalogued digital files of parts for Air New Zealand to access during the failed part simulation. This demonstration of the VeriPart programme validates Moog’s goal of creating a digital marketplace that is open to all part suppliers. VeriPart is a private permissioned environment, meaning the intellectual property of supplies is protected by encryption so only those with access can get information on parts. The need for physical inventory is taken away, parts can be requested on-demand, both in remote locations via mobile devices and with workstations on the shop floor. Meanwhile, Ethereum blockchain technology is ensuring traceability of every step of the process, from the design and production of parts, to the journey it takes from conception through to installation. “It’s going to create a new way of doing business in the aerospace market,” Abbott reckons. “We’ve tailored this towards additive manufacturing because it’s the only way we see right now where you can do truly distributed manufacturing. But all the trust and the provenance that we’re able to do in the digital space now applies to traditional supply chains within aerospace, there are a lot of human interactions and hand-offs as you move from raw material provider to the machine house that creates a sub-component to the OEM that may produce an assembly to the platform integrator all the way to the operator. By using blockchain we’re able to create a living history of all of those interactions that happen at each organisation and between each organisation and there’s a digital record of it.” It means a move away from chasing paperwork to understand the lifecycle of a part; a simple scan of a code brings up information
around overhaul, production, where the material came from, nearly instantaneously. Accounting information and trade compliance may also be available. Moog’s VeriPart platform will be accessible to OEMs, IP owners, and service manufacturers, allowing them to create relationships that enable true distributed networks. Blockchain is the pivot to it all. Not only does it make the VeriPart system function, but Moog is also relying on it to ensure trust in a field where most organisations are steeped in traditional supply chains and every part is regulated at every step of the process. The cost of failure is so high, both in terms of
“IT’S GOING TO CREATE A NEW WAY OF DOING BUSINESS IN THE AEROSPACE MARKET.” equipment and human life, that those receiving a part, additively manufactured or otherwise, would typically have access to reams of paperwork to back up that this component was produced as it was intended and is thus safe to use. That was the challenge facing Moog. “Working in a completely digital space, how can I operate with the same assurance that this is the part Moog intended for me to have, that nobody’s manipulated it, put an internal design flaw in it, and that we have the same provenance digitally all the way back to the originating design?” Abbott asks, assuming the role of a machine operator. “Just sending something to an email or normal file transfer left a lot of gaps. That sent us on a search of ‘how do we solve that problem? How do we
gain digital trust to an additively manufactured part created in a distributed manufacturing network?’ “We stumbled across blockchain technology roughly three years ago and had that ‘ah-ha’ moment that this is, right now, a very good technology to actually provide that trust and provenance in a digital space.” This process is being auditioned through an array of demonstrations, similar to the one carried out with Air New Zealand and ST Engineering, each one counting as a small step towards Moog’s ultimate ambition. The company is all about providing flight-critical components and relishes the opportunity to be able to do so at the point of need in breakdown situations. Additive technologies are currently in the process of hurdling the regulatory barriers to widespread implementation in the aerospace industry. Abbott projects plastic interior cabin parts becoming more common in the next three years, evolving into metal parts in five to ten years, and then beyond that we may begin to see critical metal parts flown. While patience is required, it at least gives Moog time to build confidence in its VeriPart platform, so when additive is ready, so is distributed manufacturing. “One thing we want to do, because we know that it’s coming and we know that we have the technology for distributed manufacturing, is create this trust environment,” Abbott finishes. “We want to make sure that we keep that progressing with the maturation of additive such that when we get there, both systems are ready to co-exist and create the most value in the marketplace.”
SHOWN: ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING CENTER CREDIT: MOOG
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ADDITIVE MANUFACTURE FOR SPACE: WHAT’S GOING ON?
FOLLOWING A TALK AT THE MTC’S ‘MADE FOR SPACE’ EVENT, TONY MEARS, TECHNOLOGY ROADMAPPING AND HARMONISATION LEAD AT UK SPACE AGENCY DISCUSSES HOW THE GOVERNMENT IS ENGAGING WITH AM FOR ITS SPACE TRAVEL GOALS.
he UK Space Agency is an interesting organisation. As well as engineers and scientists, we have a wide range of programme managers, policy specialists and strategic operators who can leverage government to work for our sector. We are a modern space agency and part of a diverse UK space sector including companies, universities and public bodies. We recognise that to thrive in the commercial space age, we need to empower those actually ‘doing space’ to have a strong say in the direction the community takes. My colleagues and I work hard to support this community, using our different skillsets to leverage funding, scan the horizon for the big chalenges, and drive growth. Many of you may not be aware of how we fund developments in space technology (in which I include the application of manufacturing methods to our sector). There are national routes and there are European Space Agency (ESA) programmes. The UK Space Agency wants to be ambitious in both. The UK Space Agency funds primarily through ESA, with around 75% of our budget delivered this way – programmes such as the General Support Technology Programme (GSTP) have delivered millions (£) over the last few years directly to technology projects. But we also have the National Space Technology Programme (NSTP), Spaceflight programme, Innovate UK, and various other government funding streams which deliver significant improvements to UK capabilities.
The UK Space Agency has spent hundreds of thousands as part of AM projects, funding various primes and SMEs, all leading to a number of innovative outcomes that will be driving the future of this technology in the UK space sector. There are a number of strands to the work of the UK Space Agency that may make use of AM. Our exploration, telecoms, regulation and space science teams all have interest in specific applications for the technology. This could be anything from using AM in conjunction with in-situ resource utilisation to construct habitats on the moon or mars, to working through how government will regulate manufacturing processes taking place in space, including in relation to potential asteroid mining. As a result, there is an obvious interest to consider how we fund development and encourage a continuation of the UK’s hugely successful commercial model. The UK’s strategic approach to space technology development has always been to raise technology readiness levels across a broad range of domains without picking winners, thus ensuring that we allow the sector and community to drive developments based on their expertise. There are of course notable exceptions, one of which is the propulsion tank market – one of several opportunities for AM in space. Currently the UK Space Agency is assessing what support we might make available for the tank market, and new technologies that can drive cost reduction will be a big part of that consideration. The UK’s Spaceflight programme has begun to consider how it will foster and develop the UK’s launch supply chain in
the coming years to support existing grants and developments in place with Lockheed Martin and Orbex. There are numerous missions on the horizon with ESA in which the UK will participate that will have components in which AM could play a key part. Beyond these institutional missions, there are increasing plans for mega constellations which would make space manufacture closer to high-value automobiles in regard to volume. As I inferred at the start, I’m not a space expert. The model on which the UK Space Agency is built relies on the expertise within our community and sector, combined with our approach to technology, to drive the direction of UK space. My key point is that those working closely on AM are best placed to know the benefits it can offer to space, a sector currently dominated by the need to heavily qualify, reduce weight, reduce cost, and make use of low production volumes. I would encourage anyone with an idea for how AM can play a bigger part to get in touch with one of the UK’s space primes to explore the opportunities.
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SPACE AND TIME: 3D PRINTING IN THE NEW SPACE AGE
s an astronaut collects his thoughts and transmits back to base, the defining engineering achievement of a lifetime is complete, and a team of engineers sit back in their goose bumps, a sensation felt by millions on a summer’s night 50 years earlier. Launcher Inc. celebrated its second anniversary in March by taking in Todd Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11 documentary, a 2019 feature film spotlighting the milestone that fuels the ambitions of Launcher, and just about every other business in its industry. Harnessing inspiration from the 1969 Moon Landings, Launcher is committed to jumpstarting the progression of rocket design. And operating out of New York, it is among the latest in its market to capitalise on the advancements in technology to do so. Launcher became the first customer of EOS’ Customised Machines division, and earlier this year announced it had successfully printed its E-2 engine combustion chamber in a single piece on a modified EOS M 400 – re-named EOS M 4K, because of its new ability to print at 1000mm in the Z axis.
SHOWN: RELATIVITY IS LEASING SPACE TO TEST ITS AEON 1 ENGINES AT STENNIS SPACE CENTER
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WORDS: SAM DAVIES
At roughly a metre tall, Launcher’s combustion chamber is believed to be the largest liquid rocket engine to be 3D printed without needing welding or flanges to assemble even the smallest of pieces. Intricate channels integrated into the design enable optimised cooling, with excess powder from the printing process being removed from these channels with vibration tables, shakers, and chemical cleaning. The first combustion chambers have been printed in aluminium, but this summer, the company aims to complete another iteration, this time using copper chrome zirconium. It is taking Launcher around three days to produce each combustion chamber, where it might previously have taken up to 18 months. The industry has seen an upsurge in activity in the last decade with a significant push from angel investors, financial support escalating as SpaceX’s vehicles began to be launched. In what has become known as the ‘entrepreneurial space age’, the billions of dollars being injected into these companies are shifting the rate of space vehicle innovation through the gears. This new generation of companies have absorbed what’s gone before
them – the triumphs in breaking ground and the cumbersome evolution of rocket engineering since – and are pioneering the use of new manufacturing technologies to achieve ambitions decades in the making. “The newer upstarts are taking hold of additive,” observes Andy Brooker, the Additive Manufacturing Development Manager at Frazer Nash, an engineering
“THE NEWER UPSTARTS ARE TAKING HOLD OF ADDITIVE.”
AEROSPACE BELOW: 6
LAUNCHER COMBUSTION CHAMBER
JAMES YENBAMROONG, MU SPACE AND TIM ELLIS, RELATIVITY MARK THEIR PARTNERSHIP
RELATIVITY’S AEON 1 ENGINE
partner of one such firm in Edinburgh. Skyrora is working towards a British Government aim of capturing 10% of the global space market by 2030, and is soon to be carrying out launch tests at Cornwall Airport. In similar fashion to Launcher, the company is throwing metal additive manufacturing – from Renishaw rather than EOS – at the Leo engines inside its suborbital Skyrora 1 and orbital Skyrora XL launch vehicles, the latter of which boasts a payload mass of up to 315 kg. To do this, Skyrora’s engineering team has collaborated with Frazer Nash, a machining company which counts as one of only three firms within the UK to have been certified in accordance with the AS9100 aerospace quality management standard, ensuring repeatability of the parts produced at its Hampshire base. Through working with Frazer Nash, the Leo engine is about 70% 3D printed, with the number of components being consolidated to make the welding assembly more time-efficient. Many of those parts have also been lightweighted to make the aircraft easier to lift, and thus reduce the fuel used. Parts like rings, mounting points, and the filter assembly are being machined for cost purposes. Machining is required on printed components too as a postprocessing step to make sure fit and alignment are accurate. Meanwhile, the internal bore of the combustion chamber undergoes polishing to remove any irregularities.
Robin Hague, the Lead Engineer at Skyrora, told TCT that using 3D printing brought about big advantages, enabling the team to “greatly simplify our design and constructing, allowing many features to be created as one embedded cooling channels running around the combustion chambers, for example.” As with Launcher, the role of this active cooling mechanism is to keep the engine at a steady temperature while the propellants (hydrogen peroxide and kerosene) are heated, ensuring the engine survives the internal combustion temperature. The application of 3D printing technologies is becoming increasingly common, from lesser-known outfits like Skyrora and Launcher to the poster child of this new wave of space vehicle companies, SpaceX. Indeed, it was at SpaceX, working on its SuperDraco engine, where Jordan Noone, CTO and co-founder of Relativity Space, pondered how 3D printing could be applied to an entire vehicle. Noone teamed up with his University of Southern California rocket propulsion lab mentor, Tim Ellis, in 2015, and four years on has a workforce of 75 and will soon open a 500,000-square-foot factory. Relativity is initially planning to print 95% (by weight) of its two-stage orbital Terran 1 rocket, which has a maximum payload of 1,250 kg up to 185 km in low-Earth orbit. Flight tests are pencilled in for the end of next year, 4
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RELATIVITY’S AEON 1 ENGINE UNDERGOES TESTING
SKYRORA’S 3D PRINTED MOTOR
with engine testing being carried out at the Stennis Space Center, an old stomping ground of the Apollo Program. On Terran 1, Relativity says it has taken 100,000 individual components down to 1,000, and its Aeon 1 engines have fewer than 100 assembled pieces each. It has its own Stargate arc-welding printing system in-house, which boasts a cylindrical build volume of 9 x 15 ft, and is utilised to produce propellant tanks, structural components, and feedlines, among other things. Inside Stargate there are three robot arms, one with a deposition head, and the other two with post-processing heads to remove material or polish printed parts. Smaller applications are typically outsourced, while the company has a fleet of DMLS machines in-house to generate and test applications. This process all amounts to an approach that Relativity believes will get its ideas into orbit quicker than has previously been possible. Print, test, change design, print again, test again, and then get it out into the field in the space of weeks and months, rather than years. Noone references the Delta Program and the Atlas Program, successful projects from which there’s been much to garner, but also a lot to consider with each iteration. Too much for his liking, and too long to complete for the liking of OneWeb, Telesats, and mu Space, all Relativity customers who want their constellations in low-Earth orbit as soon as possible. “Our thesis is if you simplify the company down to two processes, and reap the benefits of those two processes, like combining multiple parts into one, significantly fewer fasteners, manufacturing processes, [and] operations to happen to these parts, you dramatically decrease labour hours, or the amount of supply chain, or quality engineering you need to do, and lower the number of interfaces between parts. Then you have less design effort,” Noone emphasises. “A lot of the design work on a rocket is making sure these hundred thousand
pieces all fit together correctly. If that’s all done within a printer and a CAD system, you really lower the number of people you need in order to make these things happen. That’s where the benefits come in.” And that’s why the investment keeps coming. Space Angels, a financial services company, has recorded 18 billion USD being poured into the space sector between 2009-2018, with a sixth of that figure coming in the last year alone. It is driving these start-up companies to move quicker, iterate more efficiently, and fulfil their role of sending observational and communicational satellites into orbit, following that with supplies to maintain their function. It is projected more than 10,000 small satellites will be launched worldwide within the next five years. For a long time, the space vehicle industry has moved slowly, hitting dizzy heights in the late sixties and early seventies, its progress then stalling somewhat with manned missions becoming fewer and farther between. Breakthroughs like that of July 1969 consigned to nostalgia. But the industry has remained a complementary field, collaboration between public and private organisations is still rife, the big and small firms supplementing one another’s existence, to where we are today. With a new age come new ideas. “There’s a lot of unknowns with AM, and it’s the new upstart businesses that are exploring the technologies a little bit more openly, whereas the long-established [companies] are much slower to take up those [technologies] because they’ve got heritage with the
current design,” Brooker notes. “A lot of the technology within space is probably 10 to 15 years old, even on the latest launches.” “We feel the customer base is looking for much quicker response times and much quicker iteration times from us, to be able to iterate on these designs and rockets much quicker,” Noone offers. “Aerospace has been a very stagnant industry, there’s a new design of launch vehicles, historically, every 20 years, 30 years, and they’re generally variants of an older one. “These vehicles are so complex, they have so many parts, and [if] you tackle it from that direction, you can actually change the design much quicker because there’s lower part count, or because you have a factory that has a smaller footprint, much more flexible tooling. That’s how we view printing, very flexible tooling, and the ability to change quickly within the design process.” On July 20th, 1969, the world gathered around their TV screens, mouths ajar, hairs upright, to witness the Apollo 11 Moon Landings. Though more successful missions followed in the next three years, public interest in space exploration dwindled; such is the fickle nature of human intrigue, and the US Government that financed the projects placed its focus elsewhere. But in a new age, where innovation is being matched step for step by private investment, the space industry is set to speed up, and demand we all sit down and take notice once more.
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ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST PRESTIGIOUS AEROSPACE MANUFACTURING EVENTS RETURNS TO PARIS FOR 2019. HERE’S A SELECTION OF SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS YEAR’S EXHIBITORS. STRATASYS TO SPEED UP QUALIFICATION (HALL 4, STAND D192) This year’s Paris Air Show will see Stratasys demonstrate its ongoing commitment to the rapid production and qualification of flight-worthy 3D printed parts. With emphasis on existing customer success stories such as Airbus, Boeing and China Eastern Airlines, Stratasys will offer visitors an insight into the latest advances in additive manufacturing that are transforming the entire aerospace supply chain. The company’s continued objective to make the qualification process of 3D printed parts more accessible is underscored with the introduction of a brand-new public domain database.
Developed in conjunction with the National Center for Advanced Materials Performance (NCAMP) and America Makes with oversight from the FAA, this database takes strides to reduce the complexity of qualifying 3D printed parts, by making qualification data and processes available to all. Visitors to Stratasys’ stand will also have the opportunity to see what is reported to be the largest 3D printed part produced for passenger aircrafts. Made by Diehl Aviation, the 3D printed Curtain Comfort Header for installation on Airbus’ A350 XWB jet airliner will be first used by Qatar Airways.
DASSAULT SYSTÈMES TO DEMONSTRATE SUPERSONIC ENABLING TECH (CHALET B161 AND HALL 2B, STAND D170)
The French software giant Dassault recently released details on how Boom Supersonic is deploying its “Reinvent the Sky” industry solution to accelerate the design and development of Overture, its Mach-2.2 commercial airliner, with an aim to make supersonic travel mainstream and affordable.
OERLIKON SHARES INSIGHTS ON METAL AM FOR AEROSPACE (CHALET NR 74 AT ROW D OR HALL 2B, STAND G79)
Hot on the heels of the grandopening of a new production centre in Charlotte, North Carolina, Oerlikon will head to Paris Air Show to showcase how its advanced materials and specialised knowledge can be leveraged to design innovative solutions for the industry. Oerlikon’s CEO (Dr. Roland Fischer), Chairman (Prof. Dr. Michael Suess) and product experts will be on hand at the Chalet to discuss projects like the partnership with Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering on the building of a production rocket nozzle.
Boom Supersonic is using Dassault Systèmes’ “Reinvent the Sky” industry solution experience based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to support product development from concept through manufacturing and certification. By using this industry-leading solution, Boom Supersonic can cut development time of its first prototype in half and improve product quality by reducing program complexity, inefficiency, costs and resources, thus lowering the barriers to market entry.
GF MACHINING SOLUTIONS AND GF CASTING SOLUTIONS TO SHOWCASE THEIR UNIQUE COMBINATION OF EXPERTISE (HALL 4, STAND A78)
GF Machining Solutions and GF Casting Solutions will present exciting evidence of their collective competence: one of the largest 3D-printed parts for an aircraft engine. This part, a turbine rear vane (TRV), was developed at GF Machining Solutions’ and GF Casting Solutions’ new AMotion Center in Stabio, Switzerland. Printed in only 48 hours with a 60-micron layer thickness, the TRV was perfectly executed with a combination of technologies: GF Machining Solutions and 3D Systems’ workflow-optimised DMP Factory 500 metal AM printing solution for the build; GF Machining Solutions’ wire Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) machine for separating the TRV from the build platform; 3DXpert all-in-one software; and LaserFORM Ni718 metal powder.
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he ever-popular TCT 3D Printing and AM Service Provider Map is back for 2019.
Every year this map continues to be a staple feature of not just TCT’s June issue but also the office walls of many engineers and product designers looking to pursue their next project. The 2019 edition features 40 companies from across the UK, each offering their own unique additive expertise, whether you’re after polymer or metal capabilities, design for AM know-how, rapid turnarounds, huge production orders, finishing techniques or just about anything else in the design-to-manufacturing space. Available as a huge A1 pull-out, here you will find location details along with in-house equipment, typical turnaround and shipping times for each listed service provider. If you’re about to embark on your next project, let this map be your guide to finding the right manufacturing partner. If you’re a digital subscriber or looking to access the map on the go, you can check out the digital version over on issuu.com. Just search ‘TCT Magazine’.
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PAXIS: TO VC OR NOT TO VC, THAT IS THE QUESTION DAN O’CONNOR SPEAKS TO MIKE LITTRELL OF CIDEAS AND PAXIS ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF BRINGING A NEW TECHNOLOGY TO MARKET IN THE AGE OF VENTURE CAPITAL FUNDING.
he monolithic booth of Desktop Metal loomed over the proceedings at RAPID + TCT 2019, Carbon’s keynote was the talk of the town, Origin grabbed headlines, and Markforged impressed with their latest piece of machine learning software. There’s one thing those four have in common: funding, and there seems to be a lot of that about - those four companies alone have received over one billion USD in less than a decade. Such is the prevalence of funding I was asked to introduce a panel at RAPID + TCT moderated by Danny Piper, Mergers and Acquisitions Principal at NewCap Partners Inc., who discussed with the group the inner workings of venture capital investments.
Though you wouldn’t have guessed it from the questions from the audience, who used it as a Dragon’s Den / Shark Tank pitch, venture capital funding is not for everyone. Take Mike Littrell for instance; he’s been running CIDEAS Inc. - the renowned service bureau for over two decades and three years ago began to pursue an in-house development - a new, 3D printing technology called WAV, via spin-off company Paxis. “I’ve been acting as the angel fund,” says Mike on his open-sided, modest booth on the show floor in Detroit. “I know bringing WAV to market is going to cost more money than I can afford eventually. But it seems to me like people think, ‘I’ve got a start-up, so I’ve got to immediately get VC money.’ There doesn’t seem to be an old-school way where it’s like, ‘Okay, I’m going to mortgage my house, I’m going to risk everything I own, and I’m going to bust my ass, I’m going to make this work. And I’m going to understand my profitability and build my company up.’”
SHOWN: FDM PART MOUNTED INTO PAXIS PLATFORM WITH MEDICAL-GRADE SILICONE PRINTED ON TOP
The public first heard of Paxis and the technology called Wave Applied Voxel (WAV) at RAPID + TCT 2017. For the last two years, Mike and his team have had their head buried in technology development. “We’re trying to build it with a little team,” explained Mike. “We’re trying to get the foundation set before we start bringing in software engineers, hardware engineers and chemical engineers.” This ‘slow-and-steady’ wins the race approach is the way Mike has built the hugely successful CIDEAS with their cabinet chocked full of AMUG awards, and he’s passionate about doing a good job. At this year’s RAPID + TCT, we saw more parts from the WAV technology including one large print; a full-size surfboard, printed as one with a honeycomb infill, and just for the hell of it the team paused the print in the middle and changed the design by adding their logo. One part Mike was keen to show off was an FDM ABS part mounted inside the Paxis machine in which they 3D printed a silicone gasket directly onto: “Not a lot of people think of it as sexy but that’s medical-grade silicone, 4
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it is not a material developed for 3D printing. Our machine is going to be capable of running multiple materials, building extremely large parts all with trapped volume not being a problem. Looking at it from an investment casting standpoint, WAV should be capable of building enormous investment casting masters that are devoid of resin where we can build the ceramic cores into the parts. That surf board, for example, cannot be built in any known photopolymer-based technology today in one piece. The proof of concept machine that made the surfboard had less than one litre of resin at any given time during the building process. Imagine one day, printing the entire wall of a house with embedded electronics and plumbing in one piece, on-site.”
a sustainable employer to his staff, a magical movie moment happened. Like Yoda appearing in the mist to offer Luke some wise words, Scott Crump - the inventor of FDM technology stepped - into the booth. Scott was unaware that I was conducting an interview and therefore I won’t disclose what he said. Needless to say, Mike had a ton of questions. Mike was able to reel off facts and figures about the history of the TCT Hall of Famer gleaned from the fireside chat between Scott and Todd Grimm at AMUG 2016. It was all the information Scott divulged about starting a business and what it took to launch FDM that stuck with Mike: “It took $50 million to bring FDM to market, and that was in 1985, that talk was inspirational, I realised we can do this but we’ve got to always keep costs in mind.” After the divine intervention, Mike continued to ponder what he’d do if the kind of VC investment we’ve seen elsewhere did come his way. “My booth would still look like this,” he says even in his dreams, he’s grounded.
BASF’S PHOTOPOLYMER MATERIALS “ULTRACUR3D” FOR ADVANCED MANUFACTURING APPLICATIONS QUALIFY FOR EARLY DEVELOPMENT ACCESS IN NEW WAV TECHNOLOGY
The final point on the resin is often a pain-point in any large-scale SLA style process. One of the reasons the likes of the Mammoth machine from Materialise has never been commercialised is the sheer amount of, and therefore cost of, resin required. Although the Paxis team has been experimenting with offthe-shelf resins, at RAPID + TCT the company announced its first official materials partnership, and it is a significant one, with BASF. In the press release, Arnaud Guedou, Business Director Photopolymer Solutions, BASF 3D Printing Solutions glowingly stated: “The combination of BASF materials and Paxis’ system will revolutionise the way end-applications are designed, manufactured and integrated into production.” “Pairing innovative materials at the earliest stages of designing the WAV technology is critical to meeting the needs of end-users – that is, the commercial manufacturers. We are taking our time to build the right partnerships early in development stage so we can bring to market a turn-key solution for end-users. Future funding may take the VC path, or may take an alternative partnership from within, or outside, of the AM community. Our technology reaches beyond traditional AM processes which opens the door to alternative funding options,” added Mike. During a lengthy conversation with Mike about how one takes the step from invention to business and how difficult it is to juggle a passion project like this and remain
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TESTING SLS TO SUBSEA EXTREMES WORDS: DAN O’CONNOR
feature in the March 2016 company magazine for Kongsberg Gruppen - one of Norway’s oldest and largest companies - delves into the future of 3D printing within the multifaceted technology manufacturer.
PARTS ARE POLISHED AND DYED USING DYEMANSION TECHNOLOGY
The article focusses on the inhouse 3D printing by the R&D team at Kongsberg Maritime. Using the now defunct 3D Systems Cube Pro, Kongsberg fit and form prototypes. In the article, Alf Pettersen, Technical Manager at Kongsberg Aerostructures reveals a reluctance to invest in a more industrial solution. “3D printing has come a long way in terms of medical devices and prototypes, but mass production is still a problem. This is because of challenges relating to repetition and quality. It is not good enough in so many areas, particularly in the aviation industry, where there are extremely strict requirements governing quality and the qualification of methods.” Fast-forward three years and Kongsberg Maritime now has an enduse 3D printing component in mass production. The company may not be using in-house machinery, but by enlisting 3DPRINTUK, Kongsberg has been able to produce the casing for low-volume runs of a very intricate piece of subsea measuring equipment built to survive in extreme conditions.
“It’s a transponder designed to sink subsea and attach to a diver or an ROV [Remotely Operated Vehicle],” Robert Kovacs, Senior Subsea Design Engineer at Kongsberg Maritime tells TCT. “It is used when you want to know precisely where it is located in relation to other subsea instrumentation on a work site.” Robert has a decade’s worth of experience with 3D printing and applied design for additive principles to make the part as compact as possible. The transponder’s casing design allows for the battery and PCB to be encased with almost no wasted space on the inside, complete with screw holes for assembly and holes for zip ties for quick and efficient usage in the field. “This part is a multi-functional product chassis, not just a simple bracket to join two things together,” explaines Robert in 3DPRINTUK’s case study. “It has nifty features and
clever functionality that we would not get from a similar metal or injection moulded plastic part.” The decision was made to go with 3DPRINTUK’s EOS SLS machinery due to nesting capabilities, the lack of support requirement, and the ability to number each part individually. It was printed in Nylon 12 for durability, vibro-finished (a service 3DPRINTUK offers for free) and dyed using DyeMansion’s DM60 machine in carbon black colour. The result is a final part assembly that will be used in extreme subsea conditions. Although it seems Alf Pettersen was quite down on the technology in 2016, he predicted the timeframe for this kind of product with Nostradamus-like fashion: “I would estimate that within three to five years, mass production with 3D printing will have become more common.”
CASE ASSEMBLY FOR KONGSBERG PRINTED IN NYLON USING 3DPRINTUK’S SLS EQUIPMENT
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SOLVING A SPANNER O IN THE WORKS
hen the Scottish Government outlined ambitions to unlock up to 1 billion GBP potential with its Circular Economy Investment Fund from Zero Waste Scotland, a small firm, based in Brechin, had an idea: how could additive manufacturing (AM) aid a greener alternative to the traditional economy?
The alternative, the circular economy, aims to keep precious resources in use for as long as possible as opposed to the making and disposing of items. Presenting to Zero Waste Scotland, Angus 3D Solutions, headed up by Andy Simpson, detailed how additive could be the tool to do exactly that by reducing waste in the design process and extending the lifespan of machinery with cheaper and faster manufacture of replacement parts. Impressed, the Circular Economy Investment Fund awarded the 3D printing service provider with a 175,000 GBP grant and with it, the opportunity to secure a UK first. Last December, Angus 3D installed the Markforged Metal X, a low-cost metal AM system believed to be the first of its kind in the UK available for commercial use. The machine has already been deployed in a myriad of applications including lightweight custom parts for a bicycle business, the remanufacture of obsolete components for a local textile manufacturer, test pieces for an F1 team, and more recently, a seemingly small yet significant request from a global manufacturer in Dundee. W. L. Gore & Associates, a material science company specialising in fluoropolymer technology, enlisted Angus to produce a bespoke spanner. The company’s Dundee facility uses several off-the-shelf torque spanners in various sizes and designs during its product assembly operations. In one particular long-running assembly, torquing is required for a custom nut assembly which must align in a way where access is only possible in a certain orientation. Using an off-the-shelf tool led to difficulty in achieving tightness while maintaining the correct alignment without leaving any physical marks on the end product.
“W.L Gore are familiar with the advantages 3D printing can bring, so when they found out Angus 3D Solutions had taken delivery of the Metal-X, they were keen to try this new technology and explore the advantages of 3D printing in metal,” Simpson explained. “When they identified the requirement for specific spanners, it was clear this was a good fit to the technology.” Angus undertook a redesign of the spanner initially based on traditional designs and machining techniques which, like any low-volume product, would have been time-consuming, complex and costly if manufactured in this way. A quick redesign took into consideration features such as radius, which would be difficult to achieve using subtractive techniques, whilst eliminating the need for work-holding restrictions. The final design resulted in a finished weight of just 43 grams - approximately 53% lighter than traditional manufacturing.
The spanner was sent to the Metal X for printing - the system uses a bind-and-sinter process, offering a lower-cost alternative to common powder-bed metal AM technologies. Though Simpson initially considered using Markforged’s Onyx material, a high-performance nylon, he ultimately selected 17-4 Stainless Steel to enable a good amount of yield strength and
an aesthetic that would be close to that of the original spanner.
The part took just 3 hours 27 minutes to print and 26 hours to sinter, reducing lead time from five weeks to five days. Simpson notes there wasn’t a huge cost saving on this particular case due to the part being sintered on its own and therefore absorbing the full sinter cost. However, with W.L. Gore already looking at further areas where the technology could benefit their product assembly, and Angus setting its sights on larger industries, such as oil and gas, medical and satellites, that may not be the case for very long.
ANDY SIMPSON, ANGUS 3D MANAGING DIRECTOR WITH THE MARKFORGED METAL X
ANGUS 3D’S CUSTOM SPANNER FOR W. L. GORE & ASSOCIATES
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RISE OF THE MACHINES WORDS: Laura Griffiths
DEPUTY GROUP EDITOR LAURA GRIFFITHS PROVIDES A RUN-DOWN OF THE LATEST UPDATES IN THE MACHINING SECTOR INCLUDING ADDITIVE COLLABORATIONS.
hile additive technologies have long been the minority at most major manufacturing showcases, it was interesting to see the tables turned at the recent RAPID + TCT event, where there were a number of companies onhand exhibiting machines with a combination of additive and machining capabilities. Established machine tool companies like Mazak, DMG Mori and Hermle are proving two toolheads are better than one by bolting on additive operations into their multi-axis machining centres, but judging by the recent event in Detroit, additive-first OEMs are also looking to leverage capabilities from their subtractive counterparts. Optomec, a metal printing company which has been working on hybrid solutions since 2015 following collaborations with America Makes and machine tool manufacturer, Fryer, introduced a new addition to its LENS Machine Tool Series which incorporates LENS metal 3D printing onto a traditional CNC platform to enable both printing and finishing tasks to be performed in a single tool path. The LENS 860 Hybrid Controlled (CA) System is said to be
a “key element” of Optomec’s strategy to bring metal additive manufacturing into the industrial mainstream, according to the company’s president and CEO, Dave Ramahi. Another machine manufacturer whose unique process benefits from both additive and subtractive techniques is Fabrisonic, which recently unveiled a more compact version of its Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing technology in the form of the new SonicLayer 1200. The machine builds parts using a room temperature metal deposition process which harnesses sound waves to merge layers of metal foil without the need for melting. Parts are completed with the finish of traditional CNC milling. The machine is the result of a recent collaboration between Fabrisonic and NASA to scale down its UAM technology for potential use on the International Space Station and is believed to be ideal for research and development labs in industry and academia. Last year, additive giant 3D Systems struck an ongoing partnership with Swiss tool manufacturer GF Machining Solutions to address its end-to-end digital factory solution. The first product to come out of the collaboration was the DMP Factory 500, which combines additive and subtractive manufacturing for large metal parts in a simplified workflow. 3D Systems has since launched the DMP Flex 350, designed for flexible application in R&D projects, application development or serial production. Building on this, GF Machining is set to give a sneak peek of the upcoming AgieCharmilles CUT AM 500 machine for the removal of build plates for AM during the ribbon cutting of its new facility in Chicago.
In addition to hardware, 3D Systems also expanded its CNC software capabilities earlier this year with the latest version of GibbsCAM CNC promising a single user interface for programming simple to complex parts on any type of machine. The updated software provides additional milling and turning capabilities and an enhanced G-code editor, which improves the communication between software and CNC machining centres. Elsewhere in software, French metal AM company BeAM announced the integration of Siemens’ Sinumerik ONE machine tool automation system into its Modulo 250 and Modulo 400 Direct Energy Deposition machines. The tool is said to be a core element of the digital transformation of machine tools and enables manufacturers to create a complete virtualisation, otherwise known as a digital twin, of their development and machine processes. Commenting in a recent statement, Dr. Wolfgang Heuring, CEO of Business Unit Motion Control, said: “The basis for innovative technologies is the availability and transparency of data which can be used to create digital twins – of the product, production and performance – and which map and link together all the steps of industrial manufacturing processes in a virtual environment. The key is to use this data innovatively and to convert it into valuable knowledge in order to improve performance and flexibility and reduce the time to market.”
SHOWN: LENS 860 HYBRID CA SYSTEM INTEGRATES OPTOMEC’S 3D METAL PRINTING WITH VERTICAL MACHINING PLATFORMS
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TAKING THE WO OUT OF WORKH O
n the hunt for features in this issue, the editorial team was on the lookout for something novel for both the machining update and the jigs and fixtures feature. Fortuitously, a visit to Matsuura UK’s open house proved to be one of those rare two birds with one stone incidents, and if you include generative design under the simulation umbrella, you can bump off a third bird to boot. Walking into the Leicestershire HQ showroom you’re greeted with mammoth machinery like that of the Matsuura MAM72-35V - a 5-axis CNC considered one of the most reliable in the industry. In the same, giant room is the LUMEX Avance-25 - Matsuura’s state-of-the-art metal laser sintering and CNC milling hybrid technology. With the ability to
machine complex internal structures, AM Sales and Technical Specialist Joseph Bellis tells me the LUMEX machine is revolutionising the way mould and die companies are creating moulds. The curiosity for this piece, however, lies through some double swing doors at the back of the room; in Matsuura UK’s new Additive Manufacturing Facility - home to a host of HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology alongside postprocessing equipment from Rösler and DyeMansion. Peter Harris, Additive Manufacturing Manager at Matsuura UK, runs the AM facility like an operating theatre; the place is immaculate, room temperature optimised, and the parts on display have keyhole surgery-like accuracy. 4
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MACHINING UPDATE + JIGS & FIXTURES
ORK HOLDING WORDS: DAN O’CONNOR
“BY USING 3D PRINTING, YOU CAN DESIGN, PRINT, MOUNT ON YOUR MACHINE AND START MANUFACTURING YOUR CUSTOMER’S PART WITHIN 48 HOURS.”
THE GENERATIVELY DESIGNED AND ADDITIVELY MANUFACTURING WORKHOLDING FIXTURE
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"Making the Additive Manufacturing Promise Real"
Large Scale Additive Manufacturing
MACHINING UPDATE + JIGS & FIXTURES
3LEFT: A SELECTION OF PARTS MADE ON MATSUURA UK’S HP MULTI JET FUSION TECHNOLOGIES
3LEFT: THE NEW WORKHOLDING FIXTURE IS SIGNIFICANTLY LIGHTER THAN A TRADITIONAL COUNTERPART.
Matsuura isn’t the first company to 3D print workholding fixtures for CNC machining; one of its customers, BCW Manufacturing Group, invested in the HP 4200 3D printer for that very reason. BCW’s Engineering Director, Tony Kilfoyle recently gave a testimonial to Matsuura’s website saying that plastic parts not only sped up the time they became ready to cut but that they had proved to absorb vibration from the cutter better than the metal tool.
When Matsuura UK first took on the HP suite of the 3D printing products back in March 2018, the leap from the company’s core skillset in selling CNC machinery to plastic-based 3D printing may have raised a few eyebrows. Yet, it is precisely Matsuura’s knowledge in heavy machinery and the relationships it has with a customer base new to the technology that could unlock both a killer application and a new market for MJF. One of the biggest hurdles to spindle optimisation - the key performance indicator for any CNC machine shop - is workholding setup and changeover. Workholding fixtures are traditionally manufactured in metal and can take up to two weeks to make; it’s been a bottleneck in CNC milling since the dawn of the technology. “Initially we just wanted to prove the strength of Multi Jet Fusion parts,” says Peter Harris. “But by using Generative Design from Autodesk Fusion 360, and the speed of an HP 4200 Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing machine we’ve created a bespoke workholding for a five-axis CNC machining demonstration on a Matsuura MX-850.” Made as a proof of concept for a trade show the workholding is cheaper (roughly 50%), considerably lighter than a traditional fixture meaning more weight can be loaded onto the machine pallet, and, most importantly, significantly quicker. “By using 3D printing, you can design, print, mount on your machine and start manufacturing your customer’s part within 48 hours,” explains Peter. This particular design was created by feeding the mounting points of the machine and components, as well as cutting access and various other parameters like swarf
channels or hose connections to Autodesk Generative Design tools. The software embedded within the Autodesk Fusion 360 package will, in turn, create fixtures infinitely until you are satisfied, and that file will be unlike any other mount you’ve seen before. “We’re not saying it’s going to replace metal fixtures for each application, because that would just be bonkers,” explains Peter. “But what we’re proving is that 3D printing is strong and versatile. For certain applications, certain volumes of production, MJF offers a real viable alternative.” The generatively designed workholding solution was not only a proof of concept for one of HP’s target applications in Jigs & Fixtures but also served as a wake-up to the Matsuura UK staff of 3D printing’s abilities. “Even internally, we’ve seen the attitude towards HP 3D printers change,” says Peter. “That’s starting to become reflected within our traditional customers; all of a sudden, they see something that fits their business. It is amazing how many people since we showcased the part have told us how long they spend changing their fixtures.”
“BCW were generally printing fixtures more designed by traditional metal mentality, and then adapting no designs for additive. They saw this generatively designed tool at Southern Manufacturing and realised their design process can sometimes be a bottleneck. “Autodesk had a hectic two days at the show thanks to this part,” added Peter. After proving the strength of HP MJF with this workholding, Matsuura’s next mission is to prove that plastic 3D printing is capable of high-volume production. Peter says that with both the MJF technology and the accompanying DyeMansion post-processing side, it will have some volume studies to show later on this year at TCT Show that proves when 3D printing is a viable and cheaper solution than moulding. To find out more on those volume studies, well, you’ll just have to register for the show... www.tctshow.com
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JIGS & FIXTURES
TOP REASONS TO USE 3D PRINTING FOR JIGS AND FIXTURES WORDS: Jesse Marin, Design Services Manager, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing
SHOWN: BMW HAS REALISED A 58% COST SAVING WITH 3D PRINTED FIXTURES.
igs, fixtures and other tools utilised in manufacturing can be the backbone of a production floor. Successful repeatability, reliability and quality often rely on simple manufacturing aids that provide guidance and security during crucial assembly and inspection operations. Jigs and fixtures can be off-the-shelf, but often manufacturers will custom design their own manufacturing aids for unique operations to their products. Additive manufacturing (AM) eliminates cost, lead time and design barriers to adopt manufacturing aids on the shop floor. AM can deploy jigs and fixtures where they previously could not exist due to several key advantages: COMPLEX DESIGN The most obvious benefit of 3D printing across all applications is the freedom of design possible with an AM process. Freed from the limitations of injection moulding or machining operations, 3D printing opens nearly endless opportunities for tool configuration. Common conventional design considerations, like irregular profiles, contours or number of machine setups are no longer relevant when designing parts for 3D printing. COMPONENT CONSOLIDATION With the complexity available with AM, you can lessen or eliminate the costs and long lead times associated with assembly operations. Tools previously engineered with multiple components requiring assembly and fits, can be redesigned as one contiguous component, saving post-build labour. BETTER ERGONOMICS Consolidation and freedom of design allows for manufacturing aids with improved handling and ease of use. Conventionally manufactured tools produced with design restraints can be heavy and clunky, adding strain to the labour
force and time on the line. Jigs and fixtures without basic ergonomic functionality can have a huge impact on the bottom line, including flawed units, significant downtime on the floor and worker discomfort. 3D printed manufacturing aids are an effective method for incorporating contours and organic shapes that increase safety, efficacy and comfort. WEIGHT REDUCTION Another comfort and safety advantage found in 3D printed jigs and fixtures is weight reduction. Strong plastics are an excellent alternative to conventional metal cutting processes, and AM has delivered significantly lighter tools to production workers involved in assembly and fixture work. Tools that are lighter weight increase productivity; cumbersome metal tools that have to be moved across the production floor are less likely to be used. A lightweight, optimised manufacturing aid can have the same functionality while providing better ease of use. CUSTOMISATION Freedom of design opens greater control over tasks and further enables ergonomic support for workers, resulting in higher accuracy when performing tasks. Instead of designing for manufacturability, engineers can tailor a manufacturing aid for the task or employee utilising it.
DIGITAL INVENTORY 3D printing jigs and fixtures is best suited for lower quantities. The easy accessibility of a digital file allows you to produce aids as needed. This “digital inventory” is always available and allows you to update and redesign tools quickly and effortlessly. NO MACHINING If a part is designed for a tolerance +/- 0.005” or +/-0.0015 inch over inch, whichever is greater, AM can deliver the part straight off the machine. The complementary partnership of additive and conventional manufacturing can enhance the benefits that can be achieved with either process on its own. However, there are many instances in which no machining is required for AM jigs and fixtures, which saves valuable time and money. COST REDUCTION Ultimately, all the above benefits result in a reduction in cost compared to conventionally manufactured manufacturing aids. For example, BMW updated aluminum fixtures utilised in assembly and testing bumper supports with 3D printed ABS thermoplastic fixtures. The new 3D printed fixtures are 72% lighter than the previous fixtures and have improved productivity and accuracy thanks to improved ergonomics that are far less taxing on the assembler. By switching, BMW has realised a 58% saving in cost per fixture and a 92% increase in faster lead time.
SHOWN: AM CAN REDUCE COSTS, LEAD TIMES AND DESIGN BARRIERS
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ONWARDS SINGAPORE WORDS: DAN O’CONNOR
DAN O’CONNOR DIVES INTO THE PROSPEROUS SOUTHEAST-ASIA CITY-STATE’S ADDITIVE EXPEDITION
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“IT’S VERY LIKELY THAT SOMEBODY COMING OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL NOW HAS COME INTO CONTACT WITH 3D PRINTING - YOU CAN’T SAY THAT ABOUT OTHER MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES.” JOHN BARNES
hen the idea of a trip to Singapore for the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) Summit 2019 was floated, it seemed like a nobrainer. Singapore is a city-state that I hadn’t visited, that has pumped millions into additive manufacturing (AM) and, of equal importance, is famed for its street food. Then I saw my schedule. It was very much the definition of a flying visit with more time spent travelling than time on the ground. Nevertheless, what AM I did manage to cram in is enough to fill a whole magazine as well as a page worth of foodbased editorial for Conde Nast Traveler. Singapore is advancing at a rate of knots when it comes to AM; just a week before my trip, one of Germany’s largest engineering firms announced it was to open a 3D printing facility in Singapore. In the press release for the announcement, Mr Lim Kok Kiang, Assistant Managing Director, Singapore Economic Development Board, said:
“We are delighted that ThyssenKrupp has chosen to anchor the centre in Singapore. ThyssenKrupp will be wellpositioned to leverage our diverse manufacturing base and strengths in Industry 4.0 to serve the needs of customers in Asia Pacific. The investment is further testament to Singapore’s growing reputation as a hub for additive manufacturing research and deployment in the region and beyond.” That ‘growing reputation’ is thanks mainly to NAMIC. Since its launch in October 2015, NAMIC has raised more than 30 million USD to initiate 179 projects covering industry technology development, translation, commercialisation, standards development, training and certification, across various industry verticals. NAMIC’s annual summit is one of the ways the organisation promotes AM within Singapore, and the conference at the heart of that takes a different focus each year. This year’s conference’s focus is the industry’s latest buzz-phrase, DfAM or Design for Additive Manufacturing.
The conference kicked off 12 hours after I’d landed. I barely had time to check out my incredible view from the balcony of room 1218, Marina Bay Sands before Singapore’s Senior Minister of State Ministry of Trade and Industry. Dr Koh Poh Koon. He kicked off proceedings by telling us about the new Netflix version of Star Trek. “The people in the room,” he said, “are like the early crew trying to advance technologies.” Dr Koon determined that news like that of ThyssenKrupp’s investment was evidence Singapore was in a position to take a significant share of the projected $5.5bn AM market in the APAC region. As part of National Research Foundation’s Research Innovation Enterprise 2020 plan, Dr Koon’s government has identified advanced manufacturing as a significant growth area for Singapore and has committed $3.2 billion to develop technological capabilities in advanced manufacturing, and additive plays a substantial role.4
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SHOWN: A DRILL SHOE EXTRACTION FOR THE MANUFACTURE OF HP NOZZLES REDESIGNED FOR ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING
After a ceremonial signing of an MOU between NAMIC and Deutsche Bahn’s Mobility Goes Additive, whose Head of AM, Stefanie Brickwede tells the delegates she sees significant opportunity for growth in the region, Dr Koon signs off with another nod to Star Trek: “I hope like good staffing officers; you continue to push the boundaries of what is capable with additive manufacturing.” With that, the programming began with a fascinating talk from John Barnes, Founder & Managing Director, The Barnes Group Advisors. John’s in-depth knowledge serves as a great keynote, and his research highlighted one particularly shocking statistic; that on the globe, there are only about 1,000 engineers who genuinely understand Design for Additive Manufacturing principles.
with a breakfast meeting at HP’s impressive Smart Manufacturing Application and Research Center (SMARC), where a robotic arm made my first coffee of the day.
2026, thanks to simulation advancements, we’d no longer require wind tunnels; Brent Stucker, Director of AM at Ansys, estimated that it cost GE 30 million USD But there’s hope; John demonstrates a project that to finalise the series production design of the LEAP fuel nozzle; and Simon Ng, shows how kids, ‘Get it before they get it,’ and says Head of Design & Manufacturing Industry “It’s very likely that somebody coming out of High at Autodesk showcased a number of DfAM School now has come into contact with 3D Printing case studies including former TCT Cover - you can’t say that about other manufacturing star, the Lightning Motorcycles Swing Arm. technologies.” “In the scope of global engineers that is not very many,” he says.
Following John on the main stage was Lin Kayser, a German serial entrepreneur whose face I have seen plastered around the speaking circuit but whose company I wasn’t overly aware of. Hyperganic is aiming not to be just another design platform in a crowded marketplace but to fundamentally change how we think about design on a granular level. “When we currently design, it is a linear process. What we [Hyperganic] do is encode the knowledge, and then the design becomes a process. A tree growing on top of a hill grows differently from one in the forest; the DNA is virtually the same, but the look is entirely different,” says Lin Kayser somewhat cryptically. A host of presentations followed: the likes of Andre Wegner, CEO of Authentise, predicted that by
The day continued with panel sessions and more presentations, and it was left to Dr Guglielmo Vastola, Scientist at A*STAR Institute of High Performance Computing to better articulate my feelings about the proceedings: “DfAM is not just about the shape; it is about the geometry, the machinery processes and the material. We are not finished with DfAM; we’re only just on the first rung of the ladder.”
WHAT GOES ON TOUR...
After an evening spent trying to cram in as many sites as humanly possible, it was onto the industry visits. NAMIC had organised a tour of companies changing the face of additive in Singapore, starting
HP Singapore is a founding member of NAMIC, and its dedication to innovation in Singapore stretches back to the 1970s. In October, HP announced an 84-million-dollar lab created in collaboration with the organisation behind Namic, Nanyang Technological University. The brainchild of Ms Jamie Neo, HP’s Director of Operations for Supplies, SMARC is a 550 sq.m facility, where HP’s technical staff are encouraged to solve Industry 4.0 problems and prototype ideas using collaborative robots, AI, big data and importantly 3D printing. The Singaporean HP team is tasked with converting traditionally manufactured parts into 3D printable parts. On the wall of the BUILD lab are examples of the 140 parts designed and 3D printed by Multi Jet Fusion for Multi Jet Fusion. It is not just MJF machines that benefit from this process. HP is implementing 3D printed parts across all of its machinery. One such is a drill extraction shoe used in the manufacturing of HP printhead nozzles to make the laser drilling process more efficient. The team pass both the traditional part and new part around; the former is a heavy metal component machined from aluminium and the latter a light, plastic 3D print. The weight saving is impressive (a 90% reduction in total), but the price 4
THE NAMIC CONFERENCE HELD IN THE MARINA BAY SANDS CONVENTION CENTER
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A SMALL SELECTION OF THE OLD-SCHOOL PATTERNS THAT MODERN-PAK STORES IN ITS FAIRLY MODEST FACTORY SPACE
“WE LIKE TO EAT WHAT WE KILL,” RICHARD SK NG, SMARC MANAGER of the two parts is where HP must see the real value; the traditional part costs $450, the 3D printed part costs $18. “We like to eat what we kill,” says Richard SK Ng, SMARC manager. From one clean room housing MJF 3D printers to another, the group was bussed to Jabil’s Singaporean contract manufacturing centre. The Jabil facility is where those parts for HP machines are printed en masse in one of the most incredibly efficient 3D printing facilities you’re ever likely to see. As part of Jabil’s Additive Manufacturing Network six HP Jet Fusion machines work alongside the ancillary equipment producing hundreds of components for HP machines, which are then assembled on another floor. The Senior Director of Digital Manufacturing at Jabil, Rush LaSelle had just landed for a visit to the facility, and even he seemed taken aback by the Singaporean team’s refinement of the processes he’d helped to shape in San Jose in the first place: “Just rough numbers, we were probably in a 70 to 80% type yield when we handed the process over to the team here in Singapore. They did the heavy lifting to get it to where it is today at 90-95% yield,” says Rush. “We have team members who will tell you, ‘we’re 90% of the way there with 90% to go” Squeezing that last few per cent is challenging. It all comes back to the design of the parts, the design of the process design and a quality control system.”
Jabil has a long and rich history with HP, and the decision to invest in an AM facility in Singapore was closely tied to that relationship but Alvin Ng, General Manager at Jabil Singapore, reveals there are two other factors: “HP has a strong presence in Singapore, but at the same time, the central government has committed quite a significant amount of funds; over $200 million for the next few years in development, of AM ecosystems in Singapore. Intellectual Property laws are also strong here. By piggybacking on the relationship with HP and with those government initiatives, Singapore is a sweet spot for us.” Departing Jabil’s HQ, I left with the feeling of amazement at the process but also the sense that while Singapore is ideal for these large corporations to take advantage of government investment and the technical abilities of the workforce, what is in it for the little guy? Fortunately, our next stop had the answer to that. Creatz3D is a leading provider of 3D printing solutions to Singapore reselling the likes of Stratasys, 3DCeram, XJet and Desktop Metal technologies. The company’s home is the kind of old-school industrial building you’d expect to see in the Eastern Bloc, inside Creatz3D showcased several outstanding case studies. All pretty standard until they took the group a couple of stories down via a cargo elevator with holes in the floor to a packaging company called Modern-Pak Singapore. Established in 1979, Modern-Pak manufacturers millions of those transparent plastic packages you get your lunchtime snacks and salads in.
3D PRINTED PATTERNS FOR PACKAGING COMPANY MODERN-PAK
At first glance, Modern-Pak’s factory and equipment doesn’t look much like it has changed since 1979. On closer inspection the patterns in the big, old, noisy vacuum forming machine churning out sheets of 12 package moulds every five seconds don’t appear to look like the metal, wooden or gypsum patterns that you see in the corner of the room. The patterns are printed in ABS using a Fortus Machine upstairs at Creatz3D. Thanks to the layered nature of 3D printing, moulds are naturally porous, meaning that, unlike the traditional metal counterparts, a mould master isn’t required to make holes for gases to escape through. Modern-Pak estimates that one 3D printed mould can be put through its paces over a million times before showing any signs of deformity. Modern-Pak believes that with the use of 3D printing, it will be able to do away with the colossal filing system of patterns it currently houses in minimal space. It’s one of, if not the, most exhilarating uses of 3D printing I’ve seen in action. Stunned by what I’d seen at Creatz3D, I had to part from the group as it was time to jump back on another 24-hour commute home. In my 40 hours on the ground, I got to see how Singapore is systematically, through an organisation like NAMIC, changing the face of its manufacturing infrastructure by investing in additive manufacturing to the benefit of companies big and small. And if you do find yourself over there, I’d recommend the jumbo prawn laksa...
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NEW RULES: SIMULATING THE AM WORKFLOW WORDS: Laura Griffiths
magine you’ve found your killer additive manufacturing (AM) application. You’ve settled on your part and the best way to manufacture it, only to realise you now have to go through more pieces of software than you can count on one hand just to get from design to print. Factor in multiple design iterations and you’ve not only got a costly and lengthy production process but a pretty frustrating one too. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this is the reality for many engineers today.
The Pittsburgh-based company, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, is working extensively on condensing that workflow, delivering accurate scientific insight and ease of use through ongoing enhancements. And there’s a lot to keep up with as Stucker indicated during our conversation, vowing if you’re not using the latest version, you haven’t really tried the product yet. The company released the second of three ANSYS 2019 updates (version R2) in early June, with a third edition scheduled for the autumn. Along with numerous improvements to its Additive Suite and expanded materials capabilities in Additive Print, ANSYS has introduced Additive Science, a piece of kit which delivers an exploratory environment for engineers to determine optimum process
At the recent Additive Manufacturing User Group Conference, I caught up with Brent Stucker, Director of Additive Manufacturing at leading engineering simulation company ANSYS, to talk about how simulation is helping to overcome those common headaches with a traceable workflow, and why manufacturers and product developers need to keep up with the new rules of AM.
they don’t want to keep going from one software package to the next,” Stucker told TCT. “You have to have a CAD tool, a tool for build setup, a separate tool maybe for topology optimisation, a tool for simulation, maybe another to predict the micro structure, and then another to generate the scan vectors for the machine. We have customers who are using up to seven pieces of software in between design and print. So what ANSYS is doing is building a portfolio of tools that let us go all the way from finalising design to print, all in an ANSYS workflow.”
“What our customers have been telling us is that they want to combine the workflow,
SHOWN: STUDY OF ENGINE BLOCK IN ANSYS 2019 R2
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parameters along with meltpool sizes and material porosity for metal AM machines and materials. Fast forward to our conversation at AMUG, one of the newest arrivals for R2 is ANSYS Additive Prep which allows users to quickly orient parts, visualise heat maps and generate support geometries, which Stucker describes as bringing “best in class” simulation features into a combined workflow. Further updates penned for this year include microstructure
ABOVE AND BELOW: ADDITIVE SCIENCE DETERMINES OPTIMUM PROCESS PARAMETERS WHILE PRINT SIMULATION TOOLS FACILITATE THE SETUP AND SOLVING OF PRINT SIMULATIONS.
prediction from a scan parameter set, something ANSYS has been testing internally for some time, while a tool to predict the effects of heat treatment is on the horizon for 2020. ANSYS’ AM capabilities are focused solely on industrial metal technologies, specifically powderbed processes and primarily applications within aerospace and medical sectors where intense qualification is required. Stucker says the company is actively collaborating with major OEMs and plans to incorporate reading and writing capabilities directly with their machines by the end of this year. Given the rapid rate of hardware innovation, this cooperation between hardware and simulation could be hugely beneficial, though Stucker adds some “still have a bit of baking to do in the oven”. “One of the things I try to encourage people to do is, if your exact application is not ready, let’s say you’ve looked at additive but machining is still better for you, don’t checkout,” Stucker commented on the speed of machine innovation. “Things are moving so fast that a year from now the game might have moved, new rules are now available for this game.”
The good news is updates are happening all the time from all corners of additive, and in simulation, ANSYS continues to push out multiple updates every year. With the AM industry’s fast-changing nature, it’s not enough to rely on yearly developments or outmoded tools if you want to get the most out of the technology, as Stucker explained: “People in simulation are used to very slow rates of improvement. There are customers who are using three, four or five-year-old versions of software. People who are three years behind are really behind in simulation but in additive, if you’re even a release behind, you’re losing out on capability and competitive edge that your competitors will have.” Stucker has been active in AM for over two decades. He co-founded AM simulation technology company 3DSIM back in 2015, backed by investment from UL, and later sold the company to ANSYS in 2017. Now under the guise of one of the world’s oldest software companies, Stucker says many of his goals for the software to this day stem from his 15-year career in metal AM research and a vision he and his team had to help further decrease the risks around metal 3D printing’s unpredictability. This longevity has allowed the company to be a little more strategic in their approach and Stucker estimates that around 80% of the features from that original wish list have now been incorporated into the software, with a little more left to go over the next couple of years. My meeting with Stucker arrived shortly after Todd Grimm delivered his annual keynote on stage at AMUG. The AM consultant spoke about the push and pull between hardware and software and how the latter is now shouldering the load in AM progression. I asked Stucker for his thoughts on how that weight has shifted over his time in the industry: “I think, in the past, we were constrained by hardware limitations. In the present, we’re constrained by software limitations. There is a lot more you can do with a machine than a designer knows how to even think about without a software tool. “But that process without software is a lot of trial and error. I’m completely convinced that as these software tools shoulder more of the burden, the rate of innovation can go even higher. A lot of people are really sceptical that we can maintain this. I would be too if we said this rate of innovation has to be sustained based on hardware innovation and trained experts but the beauty is, with software, we don’t need as many trained experts, because that knowledge gets put into software. We have a gap in between the 80 hardware capabilities and 70 the software’s ability to take 60 advantage of that. There 50 will come a point where the 40 software becomes more capable than hardware but 30 right now, I do think that 20 software is a bottleneck in 10 innovation but it’s not going 0 to be for much longer.”
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RAPID + TCT: CONVERSATIONS FROM THE SHOW FLOOR WORDS: SAM DAVIES
n any prelude to the main event, the aim is to set the tone for what follows. What we were steering towards as more than a thousand congregated inside a conference hall for the opening keynote session at RAPID + TCT 2019 was the largest additive manufacturing (AM) trade show in North America, and the industry’s last major event before activity decelerates into the summer months. Per the honoured embargoes and scheduled meetings, the TCT editorial team were expecting a busy one. By the time Todd Grimm had finished detailing every new product, process, programme, and portfolio, those expectations were amplified tenfold. He followed a keynote presentation delivered by Riddell and Carbon, a partnership we’ll revisit in a later issue of this magazine, but one that underscored what this industry is becoming increasingly focused on: the relationship between OEM and end user. Collaboration, as Dan alludes to on page 5, is key, particularly in this context, where the industry ceases to exist without manufacturers purchasing machines. It is thus that whenever you speak to an OEM about their latest announcement, more and more there is emphasis given to the dialogue between vendor and customers that fuelled it. Every iteration of a product, every material development, every software update is a reactionary move following feedback from the people with the technology in their hands. Perhaps the most significant example of this customer-driven influence was from Stratasys, a company who has remained independent in its materials development approach for 30 years. Until now. The company started the week revealing three new ‘performance partners’ in Don Schumacher Racing, Arrow Schmidt
Peterson Motorsport, and American Magic, teams all vying for the top spot in their respective sports, and then at a press conference on day two, dropped the big one. Solvay has become the first Stratasys partner in a programme that will look to develop and commercialise high-performance polymers for its FDM range of machines, starting with the F900, and initially targeting the aerospace sector – the first commercial material is expected next year. Parts printed on Stratasys machines are already certified on planes, and Solvay’s own play in the market gives the partnership even more credibility in a big sector. The feedback from aerospace to Stratasys has been ‘go faster’. Teaming the company’s application engineering department (100-strong in the US alone) and extensive hardware portfolio with the Solvay partnership and surrounding materials programme should see strides made. “If we can bring something out four years faster, let’s do it,” Pat Carey, Stratasys’ Senior VP for Strategic Growth, stressed. “Stratasys’ customers have been repeatedly asking for more varied, high-performance materials, while many of Solvay’s customers want our high-performance polymers to be enabled for use on Stratasys’ industrial 3D printing systems,” Christophe Schramm, Solvay Specialty Polymers’ Business Manager for AM, added. “Now we’ll have an answer. That, for our customers, we believe, is a game changer.” It’s a recurring theme in the FDM sub-market. While MakerBot launched an in-house developed PETG filament for its Method platform to facilitate applications which require strength and durability, Ultimaker’s materials programme, designed to drive access to production-grade materials, was again proving its worth. In Detroit, Ultimaker made public Heineken’s implementation of its S5 machine for tooling components, achieving an 80% reduction in production costs. With Jabil, Volkswagen other highprofile companies using Ultimaker machines for similar applications, it evidences the alignment with chemical experts is paying off as the company journeys towards providing customers with the capacity to produce end-use parts.
SHOWN: 3D PRINTED MACHINE PART PRODUCED BY HEINEKEN WITH AN ULTIMAKER S5
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RAPID + TCT
The Integra P 400’s build temperature can operate at up to 300°C, enabling PEKK, PSS, polycarbonate and Nylon 6 materials to be processed. Advanced thermal control monitoring partnered with a real-time feedback loop allows the temperature to be adjusted to help reduce the deviation in builds, offering assurances to manufacturers looking to produce end-use parts. EOS has also been keen to make sure that should the machine become faulty, they can get it back up and running in quick time, so has addressed the fundamental design of the machine, the parts used, the inventory kept, and also established the ability to fix issues remotely, should the customer allow EOS access. “We don’t want to take out 100 components to fix one, so the things that we know need regular maintenance in our yearly check-ups on the machine, we’ve designed them to be readily available in terms of access when we come out there,” Baur explained. On the other side of EOS’ stand was the first customer of its Customised Machines (AMCM) division, Launcher, and its 3D printed combustion chamber. AMCM has been established to modify EOS machines
Not wanting to be typecast as a onetrick, tool-producing pony, Ultimaker has welcomed 80 material players on board to create profiles within its Cura software and give users the freedom of choice to process new applications with familiar chemistries through its 3D printing systems. “The dynamic [material] range is driven by customer applications and having the flexibility for the customer to actually innovate around a wide variety of applications so that their requirements can be met,” Jamie Howard, the new North America President of Ultimaker, told TCT. “We don’t just drive it because we want to put everybody on the planet into a material alliance. It’s a strategic decision around material types, material availability, the ability and openness of the material partner
to innovate directly with us, and sometimes directly with our customers, to create profiles and material combinations in order to satisfy a wide range of applications that are driven by global 1,000 companies.” Ultimaker wasn’t alone in showcasing what its customers are already capable of. XJet announced Marvel Medtech is producing ceramic cryotherapy probes, used in a robotic guidance system to freeze and destroy breast cancer tumours, on its Carmel 1400 platform, while the University of Delaware is developing antenna technology for the 5G network with the machine. On EOS’ stand there were two eyecatching exhibits, though one a piece of hardware and the other an application, both are the end results of working to customerdemand. The first was the Integra P 400, which has been designed so customers can drive production of applications, but also be easily serviceable. The recently-acquired Vulcan Labs is working on the hardware development of this system, ‘helping us drive quality and best manufacturing practices,’ according to Cary Baur, Manager of Application Development, Polymers, EOS North America.
SHOWN: SMILEDIRECT IS SET TO PRODUCE 20 MILLION MOUTH MOULDS IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS WITH HP MULTI JET FUSION TECHNOLOGY
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RAPID + TCT
based specifically on a customer’s application – Launcher told EOS it was looking for a bigger machine to produce its combustion chamber, so AMCM took an EOS M 400 and had its Z axis extended to a full metre in length, enabling Launcher to produce the motor in one piece. HP was another company to open up about its dealings with a customer. Christoph Schell, its President of 3D Printing, took to the main stage on day one to reveal SmileDirectClub’s investment in 49 Multi Jet Fusion 4210 systems as it targets the production of 20 million customised mouth moulds in the next 12 months. Later on in the week, at a lunchtime Q&A, Schell also introduced Virginia Palacios, the Head of System Product Management for its polymer-based printers, who will work with customers looking to scale up production, emulating the SmileDirect approach. “Some customers have started talking about modularising our system. We need to be able to adapt to different customer use cases. Virginia’s job is to modularise the system,” Schell said. “Look at the entire ecosystem, and make sure that future offerings from HP will be able to respond to individual customer use cases.” There was more of this from DyeMansion, AMT and Fabrisonic. DyeMansion unveiled a range of new colours – a durable black to match the sleekness and ruggedness of modern car interiors, and neon colours for footwear and other lifestyle applications. AMT has packaged its Boundary Layer Automated Smoothing Technology (BLAST) into a machine capable of colouring parts, PostPro3DColor, and also into a machine of smaller dimensions, PostProMini, to make the technology more accessible for smaller companies. Fabrisonic introduced the smaller SonicLayer 1200 hybrid machine for similar reasons. “The SonicLayer 1200 is both powerful and affordable,” commented CEO Mark Norfolk, “[but] the cost associated with the large scale Fabrisonic systems has been a barrier to entry for some companies and universities.” Democratisation is a key factor in Origin’s mindset too. The company is harnessing a ‘power to the customer’ approach to facilitate the mass production of parts. Its Origin One printing unit can be accessed through outright purchases or a subscription model at 1500 USD a month, and customers have access to a gamut of materials being
developed by the likes of BASF, Henkel, and DSM – 50 validated so far, with more to come by the time the machine is available in November. They can also integrate APIs, CAD programmes, and workflow platforms into the Origin software, while customised build plates are an option too. And like EOS, the company has given significant thought to the design of its machine, its advanced movement control enabling weighty objects to be processed. A 4kg block of solid material was being presented to show although users have the ability to design lightweighted parts, they don’t always need to. If they’re working in automotive or maritime, for example, implementing lattice structures can compromise water tightness, while in many cases, lightweighting is done simply to use less material and save on costs. “People talk about how you can over-engineer a part. If you don’t need to lightweight it, you don’t need to lightweight it,” Chris Prucha, Origin CEO, said. “And if you do lightweight it, our process has advantages where you can integrate with these generative design tools and we can print them very quickly, use less material. It gives the power to the customer to choose. They get one printing platform, they get to choose their material provider, their chemistry that they’re going to use, they get to choose how they’re designing parts, whether it’s this older, traditional way or this generative way. That’s what an open platform is all about, giving the option for the customer to choose, and not prescribing a solution.” The ability to be so flexible in what vendors bring to market has come about from extensive customer demand, manufacturers explaining how much easier life would be integrating a variety of software tools, being able to use the chemistries that they have done with traditional means of production, perhaps even having printers built to their exacting specifications to enable certain applications. Borrowing an old adage from the retail industry, it looks like those in the AM space, new and old, are buying into the notion that the customer is always right.
SHOWN: THE ORIGIN ONE PRINTING UNIT LAUNCHED AT RAPID + TCT
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MOVING FORWARD: THE STEADY MARCH
APID + TCT 2019 was an amazing event. The hall was brimming with exhibitors showing off their hardware, software, materials and services that provide additive manufacturing (AM) solutions. The show-floor aisles bristled with visitors seeking options for their current and planned applications. The activity was almost at the point of being overwhelming.
This year I played several roles. I kicked off the event with the annual recap of what is new in AM. Next, I participated in the inaugural Executive Summit. Following that I presented in the show-floor’s Knowledge Bar to a good-sized group of inquisitive individuals. After these duties were complete, I then squeezed in some roaming of the exhibition. In the run-up to the event—when I was preparing my presentations—and as I spoke the words from the stage, I had a realisation about a new trend in AM. Conversations with others and my journey through the show floor reinforced this observation. For the first time in a decade, RAPID + TCT had very few never-beforeseen technological advances. Even the highly anticipated unveilings of stealth organisations, at least those that I visited, were refinements and alterations to processes and chemistries that have been previously established. This is not a negative reflection on RAPID + TCT; it is an industry-wide trend that you can witness at other expos and conferences and in the reporting of trade publications. Also, this is not a negative trend in AM. Rather, it is something to be celebrated. AM has reached a time where the steady march of technology enhancement builds on what is good to make it better. It is a time where sound ideas, practical science, and good engineering deliver solutions that users are seeking; solutions that improve the process, improve the output, increase adoption and expand applications. AM now has a new normal where mind-blowing technology rollouts will be the exception. Don’t get me wrong, we will see plenty of new, unique processes and materials in the coming years. They just won’t be as frequent. At the event, evidence of this trend was most notable in the vat photopolymerization (SLA, DLP) and material extrusion (FDM/FFF) technology TODD GRIMM
is a stalwart of the additive manufacturing industry, having held positions across sales and marketing with some of the industry’s biggest names. Todd is currently the AM Industry advisor with AMUG.
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categories. Companies that in the past claimed to have a cheaper, competitive alternative to the established players—based purely on the fact that they could form a shape from cured photopolymer or from melted filament—have recognized that there is much more needed for application success. In material extrusion, companies highlighted the mundane, such as direct-drive motors, CNC motion controllers, thermal controls and refined extruders. These were paired with sensors to offer closed-loop feedback and on-the-fly adjustments. In vat photopolymerization, one company added heat and gas management to expand the range of material properties. Another paired a digital mask with a light array to improve throughput. And several had new strategies for part separation from the transparent interface that separates UV light from liquid photopolymer. The latter item helps throughput, but perhaps more importantly, it reduces forces, which expands what is possible while improving part quality. I have written this recap not to motivate you to celebrate the mundane (although you should, since it represents progress). Instead, my intent is to motivate you to be aware, investigate and test. The announcements were, and will be, about features that are not so dramatic that they naturally draw your attention. You will have to be vigilant to stumble upon or unearth these differences. Since they are features, it will also be up to you to investigate to understand if they translate to benefits for your applications. The last recommendation is to test your hypotheses through benchmarking and outsourcing so that you can confirm that the features translate to benefits without unwanted side effects. The steady march is an evolutionary one that blurs the differences between AM offerings. Rather than clear delineations, this progress adds many shades of grey to the less-thanobvious differentiators that lie under the hood. Don’t assume equivalence between competitive solutions. Discover, investigate and test to find and prove the differences that matter to your company. AM is moving forward, and these incremental advances will accelerate the journey to the promised future. Your personal journey will also accelerate when you invest the time to find the best solution, one that delivers the predictability, reliability, and capability to get the job done right.
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