The use of Metal 3D Printing By The Industry
After our series of Q&A on metal materials, let’s focus on how business and industries are making the most of metal 3D printing. Metal 3D printing is a serious challenge and many companies feel more reluctant to use it. To solve this, Sculpteo designed a free tool, the Agile Metal Business Case, that helps you evaluate and sharpen your metal 3D printing project in seconds. Discover how the industries can benefit from metal additive manufacturing today and how our new Agile Metal Technology tools suite can help you to broaden your 3D printing expertise.
Metal 3D Printing in the Industry
Implementing metal 3D printing in the car industry
The car industry has been the most active one about metal 3D printing in 2016. Great actors are investing into additive manufacturing for both prototypes and mass produced parts.
Among these actors, we can quote the well-known car manufacturers BMW and Audi. They have signed a partnership with EOS to improve their prototypes and to start mass producing more and more of their parts and specific tools. They consider additive manufacturing as the best way to integrate internal channels and special tools into the production of their cars, as they have not been able to be produced with other conventional manufacturing methods.
Another big actor of the sector, Michelin has associated with Fives to create in-house metal 3D printers. The AddUp machines are developed by the company since 2000 and used in the production process for 2 years. Michelin is using metal 3D printing to create complex molds for his tires. Metal 3D printing was integrated in the manufacturing process to help designers and production units to manufacture two new product lines for the US and Europe. It was a long-term working to make the designer aware of the 3D printing design requirements, but they achieve to build the metal 3d printing molds for their factories around the world.
Another field of application used by car industry is small batches. For instance, Ferrari has also planned to use additive manufacturing in their formula 1 racing vehicles. In their case, they are not planning to simply use it for prototyping but for many parts of the car, from plastic and carbon fiber pieces (wind tunnels, mirrors) to structural chassis parts. They also plan to create engine pistons with metal 3D printing. The interest is to create honeycomb structures that allow the same strength but much more lightweight. It is indeed one of the main advantages of 3D printing: creating complex shapes like lattices that reduce the weight but allow the piece to keep the same resistance.
Metal 3D Printing and automotive overview cannot be complete without talking about Divergent3D. This company is shaking the prejudices that car industry could have about additive manufacturing . Divergent3D is thinking the car manufacturing in a new way. They 3D print junction parts (called Nodes) to reduce assembly time, energy costs and use, with a small factory and team. Their very own model, the Blade supercar chassis can be assembled in 30 minutes thanks to metal 3D printing, and agile manufacturing solutions.
Applications of metal 3D printing in Aerospace and aeronautics
Aeronautics and Aerospace are the first industries to start using Metal 3D printing for producing parts. Reducing weight is a major concern that 3D printing can really help with.
Liberty to create very complex shapes, intricate parts and a flat price for small quantities… every company in interested by the metal additive manufacturing possibilities.
GE Aviation is one of the first to explore in this domain and the company that is investing the most in this field. They built several parts and prototypes with metal 3D printing (Jet engine, fuel nozzle) and they even integrated it in the production process. Among the benefits of using additive manufacturing for these parts, the need for fewer tools was one of the most important. They also consider it because metal 3D printing allows very complex geometries that just cannot be made with traditional methods.
By using metal 3D printing, Aerospace companies can use the same materials (titanium, aluminum…) as they do with traditional methods. This is crucial for these industry because they have qualified specific materials that can resist to the conditions of a flight. For instance, 3D printed titanium has the same mechanical characteristics of strength, weight or solidity than forged titanium. It is indeed very important in this sector to have lightweight materials like aluminum or strong and resistant materials like titanium to build specific parts for spacecraft or engines.
One of our favoring examples is also the International Submarine Engineering’s (ISE) association. They built the AUV submarine vehicle using 3D printing to manufacture a ballast tank. They achieve it in a shorter turnaround time than with a traditional forging methods. Metal 3D printing makes them realize that they can easily modify the shape of the ballast to fit better in their AUV.
Sometimes, the aerospace industry is leading to great improvements in other sectors. The powdered nickel superalloy was first developed for the aerospace industry but thanks to researches and design simulation software, this material is on the verge to be applied in mechanical parts in many other industries.
To see more examples of applications in the Aerospace industry, please visit our application pages.
On-demand products for the medical sector
Another domain where metal 3D printing is changing the game is the health sector.
Doctors and surgeons use 3D printing for their specific instruments. They can conceive their prototypes that will look very close to the final product. SpineVision, one of our customers is making prototypes thanks to Sculpteo’s 3D printing service. They consider using our metal 3D printing service to manufacture their tool in titanium or stainless steel.
The metal 3D printing technology allows to create custom parts in a very short turnaround time that’s why it is also used for surgical implants or prosthetics. With biocompatible metals like titanium 6Al-4V grade 23 (available on request from our sales team) or some stainless steel alloys, medical companies can achieve prosthetics and implants that perfectly fits the needs of the patient.
One great example is the recent success of a surgeon team from Hong Kong. They achieve to implement a titanium 3D printed talus bone to a motorcycle crash victim. It was easier for them to use this technology as it allows a short turnaround time and very precise dimensions that perfectly fits the patient’s body. They are planning to expand the use of metal additive manufacturing to replace bones of patients suffering from bone cancer.
To learn more about our Titanium 3D printing material, please visit our material page.
If you want to discover how our customers are using our services to create their medical equipment, you can check our application page.
I’m not in one of those sectors, can I 3D print in metals?
Yes of course! Metal 3D printing on Sculpteo is available for everyone.
However, it could be a little scary if you do not have any experience with metal 3D printing.
When talking about this technology, cost is often one of the main concerns that’s why, to avoid this failure, Sculpteo is developing a series of tools that will help you take the most from metal 3D printing at the right price.
Business Case and AMT
The Agile Metal Technology suite is composed of 6 agile tools that will analyze, repair and improve your 3D model for metal 3D printing.
The first one, Business Case is an AI that will evaluate with you if your project is worth of a metal 3D print and will give you advice on it. It is already available for free on this webpage. Try it now!
To learn more about the Agile Metal Technology tools, you can visit this page.
Sculpteo Digitally Manufactures the Metal Parts
The purpose of our services is to offer to anyone from any industry, the opportunity to run its own factory. In the same place, you have the machines, the skills and the tools to produce your metal parts. From your desktop, you can manufacture, 3D print and laser cut in metals.
This how the Sculpteo Bike Project was born. Our two designers used many technologies (SLS, DMLS, Laser Cutting, CLIP) and many materials (Aluminum, titanium, Carbonmide, leather) to create a digitally manufactured bike.
If you want to learn more about this project, you can visit this webpage
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