TCT NA 5.3

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AEROSPACE The latest in rocket manufacture and beyond




Conversations and collaborations from Detroit




Hirtenberger. Ingenuity. Engineered



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Combination of electrochemical pulse methods, hydro-

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IS THE GALVO IN YOUR SYSTEM STABLE AND ACCURATE? Thousands of layers of sintered material...


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• <10 µrad/ºC thermal drift means more accurate parts and higher yields

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• <±2.5 µm of pk-pk laser placement error means more intricate and innovative designs

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"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 realized 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 organization 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 ten-minute bead blast (more on page 22). The proliferation of collaboration goes a long way to justifying why we put that plus symbol between RAPID and TCT in the first place.



VOL 5 ISSUE 3 / / 03

The Event for

Design-to-Manufacturing Innovation


3d printing | additive manufacturing | inspection machine tools | cad/cae/cam/plm software | materials metrology | moulding and tooling | post processing

25 26 SEPTEMBER 2019 NEC, Birmingham, UK

TCT Show continues to accelerate the adoption of technologies and innovations that play a part in the design-to manufacturing process chain. In 2019 over 300 exhibitors will come together to present insights, intelligence and inspiration for over 10,000 attendees. If you’re looking to reach key buyers and influencers, and offer innovative design-to-manufacturing solutions, then you should have TCT on your show list for 2019.


Book your stand






U.S. AM and 3D Printing Service Provider Map pull-out free inside SPONSORED BY



VELO3D on support-free additive manufacturing and its “go slow to go fast” approach.






Deputy Group Editor, Laura Griffiths provides an update on the latest in machining, including hybrid systems.



Assistant Editor, Sam Davies finds out how Moog’s VeriPart platform is enabling true distributed networks for MRO.


Our partners at America Makes present a study on AM's use case in defense.


Sam Davies explores the additive manufacture of rockets in the new space age.

17. NEWS

More stories from this issue’s big focus.




Jesse Marin at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing on how to maximize 3D printing for some of the lowest hanging fruit.



30. 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.


Todd Grimm discusses why incremental advances will accelerate AM growth.

Head of Content, Daniel O'Connor reports on a visit to Matsuura UK where he scored a hat-trick for this issue’s key focuses.

RAPID + TCT Review



Sam rounds-up the biggest updates and trends from Detroit.


Dan speaks to Mike Littrell of CIDEAS and PAXIS about bringing a new AM technology to market.






ust for a moment, forget everything you think you know about metal additive manufacturing (AM). Leave your preconceptions around additive-only geometries, post-processing afflictions and machines on every factory floor, and enter VELO3D. The California-based company, which officially launched its debut AM system onto the market last year, is on a mission, supported by more than 90 million USD in funding, to make additive viable for high volume manufacturing and is doing so with a fresh outlook on the industry. ‘Manufacturing’ over ‘printing’ is the crucial distinction here as the company’s Co-Founder and CEO, Benny Buller told TCT: “VELO3D is really about being able to make any geometry. The difference between [manufacture and print] is that when you're in manufacturing, you have to do it in a reproducible way. And you have to do it with quality.” Manufacturing impossible parts is a familiar claim of the additive industry but as those close to the technology know all too well, is not so straightforward, as Buller discovered when first investigating the technology as an investor back in 2014. “You think about the idea of ‘complexity is free’ and you can do anything. When I saw the actual status of the technology, I was shocked at how limited it is. I found that the reason is the limitations



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that supports impose on the geometry,” Buller explained. “I started to talk with a few people that I knew were engaging with the technology and trying to use it for making products. I asked them, ‘what's the issue? How big is this limitation? How valuable would it be to remove that?’ And the answer was, ‘Oh, that would be super valuable but don't worry about that because there's nothing you can do about this,’ this was how it was.” That frustration lit the spark for the development of VELO3D's Intelligent Fusion, a laser powder-bed fusion metal AM technology capable of building complex parts with overhangs and angles of less than 10 degrees, as well as large diameters and inner tubes up to 40 mm, with less dependence on supports. Some applications can even be printed free-floating in the powder bed, built layer by layer in IN718 or Ti6Al4V using two powerful 1KW lasers and a patented non-contact recoater. The technology has been packaged inside the VELO3D Sapphire System, an industrial scale machine featuring a 315 mm diameter by 400 mm height build envelope and integrated in-situ process metrology for closed loop melt pool control. Backing up the hardware is VELO3D’s

cover story Flow print preparation software, which enables support generation, process selection, slicing and simulation. The industry has long preached that additive advantage can be found in redesign – make parts more lightweight, consolidate and increase complexity. Without the need for supports, which often carry additional design considerations and arduous post-processing, VELO3D aims to make that claim a certainty. But Buller takes a somewhat unconventional view: “Our belief is that the number one priority for additive manufacturing is to have wins where you can take existing products that have been built in a non-additive manufacturing way and build them using additive, without redesigning.” In theory, to get to production, manufacturers need to be able to make real like-for-like comparisons between conventionally and additively manufactured parts. Once proven, engineers can then start looking at new designs and capitalizing on those benefits. It’s a more “go slow to go fast” approach to adoption, which the company believes alleviates the risk of designing solely for AM by focusing on “additive manufacturing enabled design”. “It is really hard to develop a new product that is based on a new manufacturing technology that is not yet dependable, and to make the technology dependable at the same time,” Buller commented. “Once you prove the technology, you can then introduce new products that are taking advantage of additive manufacturing. When you do that, you can do things that are bolder.” Buller, who has spent over 25 years in the product development world, knows a thing or two about getting a product to market and that includes having a reliable supply chain. He compares





the structure of the machining industry where much of the work is outsourced, unlike additive where it’s not uncommon to find a 3D printer, dormant or otherwise, inside an OEM facility. While machine installations at Fortune 500 companies are a sure-fire way to color a company’s CV, VELO3D is going after a fundamentally different sales model, targeting primarily service providers and building out a network of manufacturing partners, with the belief that specialization from a smaller pool of reliable providers will be critical to the maturation of AM for production. Through its Manufacturing Alliance, the company will work with OEMs to identify business opportunities and high impact parts for customers in the aerospace, medical, power generation, oil & gas, chemical & material processing, and motorsports, and match them up with a partner in the supply chain. “We're talking about real high impact parts where people save money immediately and reduce lead times or resolve supply chain constraints,” Buller explained. “You will not see us selling machines to universities, to research institutes even to OEM’s research centres. We are focusing on manufacturing and on driving these machines and the ecosystem to the manufacturing supply chain.” One of Velo3D’s first manufacturing partners is Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, one of the biggest AM service providers in North

America, and there are already several others, not yet disclosed, signed up. Some already have multiple VELO3D systems in-house and one particular company is expected to have a total of five machines installed by the end of this summer. VELO3D also recently partnered with Boom Supersonic to manufacture metal parts for its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft. In addition to expanding its manufacturing network of supply chain partners, VELO3D has built its systems with a semiconductor focus on quality assurance and process control. Multiple sensors monitor the build quality and system status in every layer, providing in-depth visibility to the quality of parts being built – in real-time. Every system is equipped with pre-build machine calibration to ensure that the system is in optimal health and capable of building good quality parts. A major pain point for the industry, Buller elaborated that if users are expected to “pray before, during and after every production run” without any real control over the print outcome, put simply, this is not production. That’s exactly what VELO3D intends to challenge as it continues to build out its portfolio of solutions and manufacturing partners. “We strive to get to a case where we will be able to print any geometry, we made it our mission,” Buller added. “This is the business objective of VELO3D to guarantee a successful build. If you think about this concept of providing a guarantee that the build is successful - these are unheard of words in this industry.”

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We know advanced manufacturing +

20,000,000 parts produced


1,700,000 hours of engineering time


300,000 projects with our customers

3D printing and manufacturing services \ prototyping \ production \ design services injection molding \ casting patterns \ urethane casting \ CNC machining \ metals \ plastics




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 centered 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 - 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 catalog of parts uploaded by Air New Zealand’s MRO provider, Singapore-based ST Engineering, and ordered a replacement. ST Engineering identified the nearest certified 3D printing system to where the plane was due to land and pushed the order through for Moog Aircraft Group to additively manufacture (AM). Within 30 minutes of being on the tarmac, the part was replaced, and the plane able to complete its three more scheduled trips before returning to Auckland. “That’s a part that does fail on occasion,” Tim Abbott, Digital Transformation Manager at 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 AM 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 systems, and specifically in the aircraft industry,

VOL 5 ISSUE 3 / / 09

Direct Digital Manufacturing or Rapid Prototyping, RPS can help you with both.

AEROSPACE mission-critical systems in primary and secondary flight control. About five years ago, the company’s thoughts around AM began exceeding prototyping and 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 recalls. “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 access to a 3D printer and you’d be able to produce the part at the point of use, creating a drastic reduction in lead time, creating higher operational flexibility, and reducing revenue loss.” Moog’s answer to this scenario is VeriPart, the program which cataloged digital files of parts for Air New Zealand to access during the failed part simulation. This demonstration of the VeriPart program validates Moog’s goal of creating a digital marketplace that is open to all part suppliers. It is a private permissioned environment, meaning its intellectual property 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 design through production through 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 organization and between each organization and there’s a digital record of it.” SHOWN: MOOG’S ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING CENTER FACTORY

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

“IT’S GOING TO CREATE A NEW WAY OF DOING BUSINESS IN THE AEROSPACE MARKET.” most organizations are steeped in traditional supply chains and every part is regulated at every step of the process. The cost of failure is so high that those receiving a part, additively manufactured or otherwise, would typically have access to reams of paperwork to prove this component was produced as it was intended. 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 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 break-down situations. AM 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 it’s coming and we know 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.”


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WORDS: Ashley Totin, Eric MacDonald, Brett Conner


dditive manufacturing (AM) is causing a fundamental manufacturing paradigm shift that is changing how aircraft are now maintained and sustained. Sustaining an aging aerospace fleet is an enormous challenge. Sustainment organizations struggle with long lead times that result in maintenance delays or grounded aircraft and managing an extensive parts inventory. For example, the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex reported lead times as long as 800 days for constant speed drive castings. In 2016, Military. com found 29% of U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets were grounded pending spare parts. AM has emerged as a potential solution to reduce both lead times and inventory costs and is well suited for fabricating low-volume, customized, and complex components with the potential benefit for part count reduction and weight savings. Multiple AM technology categories per ASTM/ISO 52900-15 exist that process a diversity of materials, including polymers, metals, ceramics, sand, paper, and composites. Examples of materials and processes most relevant to aerospace maintenance and sustainment are shown in Table 1.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT This effort was performed through the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining under the America Makes Program titled “Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low Cost Sustainment (MAMLS)� and is based on research sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory under agreement number FA865016-2-5700.

TABLE 1: Aerospace relevant materials produced using additive manufacturing MATERIAL TYPE






Material extrusion

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polycarbonate, ULTEM 9085, polyphenylsulfone, high-impact polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate

Powder bed fusion (i.e., selective laser sintering)

Polyamide 11 and 12 (including fire-resistant varieties), polyether ether ketone (PEEK), and polyetherketoneketone (PEKK)

Material extrusion

Chopped carbon fiber-filled AB; carbon fiber (CF)-filled nylon; and CF-filled nylon reinforced by continuous Kevlar, fiberglass, or CF

Sheet lamination

Printed layups of Kevlar, fiberglass, and CF

Powder bed fusion and directed energy deposition

Tool steels, stainless steels, titanium alloys (i.e., Ti-6Al-4V), aluminum alloys (generally, Ai-Si-Mg and not yet 2000, 6000, or 7000 series), nickel-based alloys (i.e., Inconel 625 or 718), cobalt-chromium alloys, copper-based alloys, platinum, palladium, tantalum, and high-entropy alloys

Binder jetting

Stainless steels, tool steels, titanium alloys

Sheet lamination

Most metals found in sheet or foil form, including aluminum, stainless steel, tantalum, nitinol, and copper

With the multiple AM processes and functional materials available, the aerospace industry is using the technology for many applications specific to maintenance and sustainment. A summary of the most common applications can be found in Table 2.

TABLE 2: Aerospace maintenance and sustainment additive manufacturing applications AM APPLICATION



Rapid Prototyping

Conceptual designs, fit checks, drill guides

Investigate form, fit and function, speed design, decrease material waste compared to traditional prototypes e.g. CNC machining

Tooling, fixtures & jigs

3D printed sand mold & core, investment casting patterns, guides, templates, gauges, drill patterns, and trim guides

Minimal qualification/ certification needed, reduction in cost and time, large volume


Turbine engine parts, blades, compressors, housings

Worn or broken parts are repaired instead of scrapped which leads to cost savings

End-Usable Parts

Nozzles, brackets, bell cranks, heat exchangers, fairings, blades, linkages, control interfaces (buttons, yokes, sticks, throttle, etc.)

Design for AM enables cost savings due to light weighting, part consolidation and geometric complexity. Inventory control. Manufacturing at point of need.

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Figure 1

One of the original applications for AM is rapid prototyping for fit checks, with significant utility in aerospace maintenance and repair. For example, the Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) Southwest created a 3D printed prototype of a tub-fitting reinforcement. Once the fit was verified on the aircraft, the fitting was machined out of aluminum. As computer numerical control (CNC) machining is time consuming, laborintensive, and often capacity-constrained, AM prototypes can prevent waste due to incorrect geometries or dimensional tolerances. A “low-hanging fruit” for AM is the reduction in cost and time for aerospace maintenance and sustainment though the fabrication of tooling, fixtures, and jigs. The benefits can be realized nearly immediately without the qualification and certification challenges associated with AM end-use parts. Aerospace metal castings can also take advantage of AM tooling in an industry where lead times of months are common by printing either the mold or pattern for the casting. A team from Autodesk and Aristocast designed a modulating matrix structure for an investment casting pattern to cast a super-light airplane seat frame (shown in Figure 1) to provide a 35% lighter seat still able to meet performance specifications.

Figure 1: An AM-Enabled Magnesium Investment Casting of an Airbus Seat Frame (Source: Autodesk). AM is being utilized for repair of metal aircraft engine parts such as turbine engine parts, blades, compressors, and housings. Worn or damaged parts that are scrapped and replaced can instead have its lifetime of the part extended through AM repair. Parts are repaired by (1) removing the damaged material, (2) replace material additively followed by (3) subtractive machining to restore dimensions. The most common AM process for repair is directed energy deposition (DED). The value of AM repair is impacted by factors such as inspection for defects, the ability to repair the part in the field, the speed and cost of alternative repair techniques, and the requirement to restore the part to the original form with the same mechanical properties. The direct fabrication of end-usable spare parts has generated great excitement. One of the most visible examples of metal AM parts for maintenance and sustainment has been the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR’s) demonstration of a laser powder bed fusion produced titanium link and fitting assembly for the engine’s nacelle on the V-22 Osprey aircraft (shown in Figure 2). This part had to undergo extensive materials and performance testing for qualification and certification before being placed on the aircraft. Figure 2: Titanium Link and Fitting Assembly for the V-22 (Source: Noel Hepp, U.S. Navy). A plastic material extrusion desktop 3D printer was used by the U.S. Marines on the USS Wasp to make a replacement plastic bumper for an F-35B landing gear door (see Figure 3). In the left photo a 3D printed plastic F-35B landing gear bumper for an F-35B Lightning II is being held and on the right, Sgt. Adrian Willis is demonstrating the 3D printer used to print the bumper part. This replacement part saved $70,000 and several days, as the conventional method to replace the bumper would have been to order and ship a complete door to the Wasp!

Figure 3: (Top) CWO2 Rodriguez Holding the Bumper and (Above) Sgt. Willis Demonstrating the 3D Printer (Sources: U.S. Marine Corps Photos by Cpl. Stormy Mendez and Cpl. Stormy Mendez). The aerospace industry uses qualification, certification, and quality controls in order to ensure public safety. A traditional Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Building Block certification approach can cost millions of dollars and many years of delay. Since AM is a new method of materials processing and direct part production presents a challenge for qualification and certification, especially for critical aerospace components. AM is a suite of manufacturing processes that can reduce maintenance time and costs through prototyping, tooling, fixtures, jigs, part repair, and spare part production. Reductions in lead time, cost, and improved buyto-fly ratio are being realized today. If design changes are permitted, then complex geometric lightweight parts will enable energy-saving and positive environmental impact. Challenges still need to be overcome to enable more widespread adoption of AM, including process control, geometric tolerances, quality assurance, and repeatability.

Figure 2

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s an astronaut collects his thoughts and transmits back to base, 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 just about every business in the rocket industry. Harnessing inspiration from the 1969 Moon Landings, Launcher is committed to jumpstarting the progression of rocket design and is capitalizing on the advancements in technology to do so. Using a modified EOS M 400, Launcher is manufacturing its E-2 engine combustion chamber in one piece within three days, rather than the 18 months it would typically take. At roughly a meter tall, the 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. It also features intricate channels for optimized cooling. Initially, the combustion chamber has been printed in aluminum, with iterations in copper chrome zirconium to come. In what has become known as the ‘entrepreneurial space age’, billions of dollars’ worth of angel investment is shifting the rate of space vehicle innovation through the gears. Start-up 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

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additive,” observes Andy Brooker, the AM Development Manager at Frazer-Nash, an engineering 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. In similar fashion to Launcher, the company

“THE NEWER UPSTARTS ARE TAKING HOLD OF ADDITIVE.” is throwing metal additive manufacturing 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 315kg. Through working with Frazer-Nash, the Leo engine is about 70% 3D printed, with part consolidation making the welding assembly more time-efficient. Lightweighting these components has also made the aircraft easier to lift and reduced fuel consumption. Parts like rings, mounting points, and the filter assembly are being machined for cost purposes, while machining also ensures the fit and alignment of printed parts are accurate. Robin Hague, the Lead Engineer at Skyrora, told TCT using 3D printing brought about big advantages, enabling his 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. 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. The company is initially planning to print 95% (by weight) of its two-stage orbital Terran 1 rocket, which has a maximum payload of 1,250kg up to 185km lowEarth orbit, bringing 100,000 individual components down to 1,000. Its Aeon 1 engines, meanwhile, have fewer than 100 assembled pieces each. Relativity’s Stargate arc-welding printing system, consists of three robot arms, one with a deposition head and two with postprocessing heads, and a cylindrical build volume of 9 x 15 ft. It is used to produce propellant tanks, structural components, and feed-lines, among other things, while smaller applications are typically outsourced. Applications are tested on inhouse DMLS machines. With this approach Relativity believes it will get its ideas into orbit quicker than has previously been possible, in weeks and months, rather than years. Noone references the Delta and Atlas Programs, successful projects from which there’s been much to garner, but also a lot to consider each iteration. Too much for his liking, and too long to complete for the liking of OneWeb, Telesats, and mu Space 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, [use] less fasteners, manufacturing processes, [and reduce the] operations to happen to these parts, you dramatically decrease labor 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 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. 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. More than 10,000 small satellites are set to 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, and then its progress stalling somewhat, manned missions becoming fewer and farther between, breakthroughs like that of July 1969 consigned to nostalgia. But with a new age comes new ideas. “We feel the customer base is looking for much quicker response times and much quicker iteration times from us,” 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, 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, the source of finance, 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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Rolls Royce is ramping up its additive manufacturing (AM) capabilities with the adoption of SLM Solutions metal AM technology. The engineering giant is said to be leveraging the German 3D printing leader’s large SLM 500 quad-laser systems to meet high productivity and quality control requirements for the manufacture of aerospace components. Neil Mantle, Head of Additive Layer Manufacturing at Rolls-Royce said the company is continuing to develop its AM capability to ensure it is at “the forefront of advanced manufacturing.” The SLM 500 enables build rates up to 171 cm3/hr along with automated, closed-


Stratasys and Boom Supersonic have announced a seven-year extension to their partnership. The partners first announced the collaboration two years ago as Boom Supersonic began to harness 3D printing in the production workflow for its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft, the prototype for the company’s Overture commercial airliner, which will travel at around speeds of 1,500 miles per hour. Boom is now leveraging the Stratasys F900 system with the Aircraft Interiors Solution (AIS) package, moving from producing prototypes and tooling components with the company’s F370 and Fortus 450mc, to end use cabin parts. Mike Jagemann, Head of XB-1 Production at Boom, commented: “By being able to print critical parts and components on-site rather than purchasing them from a supplier, we can create custom parts, increase our speed from engineering to manufacturing, and focus on building the aircraft and fulfilling our vision.” Rich Garrity, President Americas at Stratasys, added. “Working together, our teams have put the technology to work for efficient, reliable and repeatable prototypes, tooling and jigs and fixtures. Now, we’re ready to go further, for strong, durable, lightweight

loop material supply, recovery and sieving to minimize operator handling. Rolls Royce noted the machine’s inert gas flow control as a major benefit which allows users to maintain a controlled working atmosphere across the build chamber to achieve optimal printing results. Meddah Hadjar, CEO of SLM Solutions Group AG added: “We work closely to develop products that meet their needs to assure aerospace certified part quality levels. This way the Rolls-Royce team can document their expertise and control of the systems adhering to strict regulations and keep their ambitious and innovative additive production plans on track.”


Oerlikon AM and MT Aerospace have announced a partnership to accelerate the adoption of AM for the aerospace and defense industries. The two companies plan to bring together technical capabilities and expertise in the aerospace market to deliver efficiency and cost savings with a range of end-to-end solutions. Hans J. Steininger, Chief Executive Officer of MT Aerospace AG commented: “The companies contribute their respective expertise in component design and manufacturing, as well as component testing and qualification, to offer customers a “one-stop-shop” from product specification to a finished, qualified part.” MT Aerospace specializes in designing highly stressed and lightweight metal structures for aerospace and defence applications. The partners believe these

capabilities, combined with Oerlikon’s materials, design, 3D printing and post-processing abilities, will offer customers a “notable advantage” through design, manufacturing, part inspection and qualification. Prof. Dr. Michael Suess, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Oerlikon, added: "Through this partnership, we look forward to continuing to lead innovation and digitization trends in the aerospace industry by accelerating and scaling up the process from concept to operational delivery.”

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Machining Update

WORDS: Laura Griffiths



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 on hand 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 virtualization, 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.”

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TOP REASONS TO USE 3D PRINTING FOR JIGS AND FIXTURES WORDS: Jesse Marin, Design Services Manager, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing




igs, fixtures and other tools utilized in manufacturing can be the backbone of a production floor. Successful repeatability, reliability and quality often relies 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 molding 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 labor.

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 labor 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, optimized manufacturing aid can have the same functionality while providing better ease of use.

CUSTOMIZATION 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 utilizing it. DIGITAL INVENTORY 3D printing jigs and fixtures is best suited for lower quantities runs. 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 utilized 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 realized a 58% saving in cost per fixture and a 92% increase in faster lead time.

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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 revolutionizing the way mold and die companies are creating molds. 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 post-processing 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 temperatureoptimized, and the parts on display have keyhole surgery-like accuracy. 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 optimization - 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.


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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.” 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. “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 realized their design process can sometimes be a bottleneck. “Autodesk had a hectic two days at the show thanks to this part,” added Peter.

“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.

After proving the strength of HP MJF with this workholding, Matsuura’s next mission is to prove that plastic 3D printing is capable of highvolume 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 molding.

“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



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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 honored 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, program, 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.

Solvay has become the first Stratasys partner in a program that will look to develop and commercialize 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 program 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 Strategy, 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 program, designed to drive access to production-grade materials, was again proving it’s 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 and other high-profile 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.


Collaboration, as Dan alludes to on page 3, 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 fueled 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.

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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 1000 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. 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

“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 Customized Machines (AMCM) division, Launcher, and its 3D printed combustion chamber. AMCM has been established to modify EOS machines 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 meter 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 customized mouth molds 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.



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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.

“Some customers have started talking about modularizing our system. We need to be able to adapt to different customer use cases. Virginia’s job is to modularize 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 colors – A durable black to match the sleekness and ruggedness of modern car interiors, and neon colors for footwear and other lifestyle applications. AMT has packaged its Boundary Layer Automated Smoothing Technology (BLAST) into a machine capable of coloring 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 costs associated with the large scale Fabrisonic systems has been a barrier to entry for some companies and universities.” Democratization 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 programs, and workflow platforms into the Origin software, while customized 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 on 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 there 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.



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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


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CIDEAS Inc. - the renowned service bureau - for over two decades and three years ago began to pursue an in-house technology 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 opensided, 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.’” 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, 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 liter 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.” 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 have never been commercialized is the sheer amount of, and therefore cost of, resin required. Although the PAXIS team has been experimenting with off-the-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 at BASF 3D Printing Solutions glowingly stated:

“The combination of BASF materials and PAXIS’ system will revolutionize 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 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 onto 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. He 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 realized 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.

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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. 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 optimization, a tool for simulation, maybe another to predict the microstructure, 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 finalizing design to print, all in an ANSYS workflow.” 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 keepup 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 parameters

“What our customers have been telling us is that they want to combine the workflow,


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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, visualize 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 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. The hardware is actually more capable of holding more complex things than most people are taking advantage of today. 80 We have a gap in between 70 the hardware capabilities and the software’s ability to 60 take advantage of that. There 50 will come a point where the 40 software becomes more 30 capable than hardware but 20 right now, I do think that 10 software is a bottleneck in 0 innovation but it’s not going to be for much longer.”

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grimm column




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. 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 realization 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-before-seen technological advances. Even the highly anticipated unveilings of stealth organizations, 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 categories. Companies that in the past claimed to have a cheaper, competitive 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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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. 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. 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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