Value Chain

3D Design & Engineering | 3D Printing Materials | 3D Printing Post-Processing | AM Integrated Factory

3D Design & Engineering

Designers and engineers have grown up with milling and drilling as the manufacturing technologies for developing products. With 3D Printing/Additive manufacturing new opportunities arise but also new pitfalls.

3D printing is not just a prototyping technology anymore, it is a manufacturing technology which requires a different way of thinking. A designer needs to know the ins and outs of the product, and is required to learn new skills and approaches to become a real professional in 3D Printing Design & Engineering.

Many aspects should be considered: how will it function, what should it be supporting, what is the optimal construction?

  • 3D design & 3D engineering tools / Visualisation tools
  • Value Engineering / Virtual Engineering
  • Topology Optimization
  • Validation
  • IP, liability, legal and technical issues
  • Reverse engineering
  • Postprocessing / AMES (Additive Manufacturing Execution Systems) / (MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems)
  • Blockchain

3D Printing Materials

3D printing is hot and has emerged as manufacturing technology with a thousand uses spread across a very diverse user base. The ongoing development of new materials does not only have impact on the quality of the 3D printed end product, it opens new markets and it has a positive influence on the price level of the used materials.

The following topics are in focus:

  • Polymers (New materials)
  • Metals
  • Multi material

3D Printing Post-Processing

While the 3D Printing industry has strongly focused on the first two steps of 3D Printing: Design and 3D Print, the third step, Post-processing, has been overlooked. Post-processing encompasses all of the actions that are performed after parts are removed from a 3D printer. There are two categories of post-processing:

Primary
This includes the mandatory steps that must be performed on all parts to make them suitable for use in any application. The steps vary by technology but generally include cleaning and support structure removal.

Secondary
This includes actions to improve the aesthetics or function of the part. Most commonly, secondary post process includes sanding, filling, priming and painting. However, it can also include machining or plating, for example.

Post-processing operations may be manual, semi-automated or automated, and they can be either serial or batch processes.

There is no one technology that suits all 3D printing post processing applications, since the type of 3D printer, the 3D printing technology, the applied material type and the Level of labor (manual, semi-automated or automated have) have serious impact.

The post-processing phase has impact on the following parameters within and for an organisation:

  • Time
  • Facilities
  • Cost
  • Quality
  • Staffing
  • Safety

AM Integrated Factory

With the growth of AM, more and more organisations are starting to look at the possibilities to integrate this technology in their manufacturing processes. One of the core advantages that AM has is that its digital technology. It is completely CAD/CAM based.

Three trends are visible, which overlap each other as well :

  • Use of Hybrid manufacturing (systems where additive and subtractive manufacturing are combined in the same machine)
  • Implemention of AM systems as part of an end-to-end production workflow ( including: material handling systems, multiple additive manufacturing systems, part handling systems, part cleaning systems, curing/heat treatment systems, support/powder removal and recycling systems, part inspection systems and part finishing systems)
  • Implementation of AM systems in the ‘traditional’ production processes (in other words, building a complete production chain with several state-of-the-art production technologies like milling, robots, welding, Additive Manufacturing and more).

This integration requires a transition at software level as well with CAD/CAM/CAE software feeding into Simulation, MES (manufacturing execution systems) and PLM software tools.