Product development can be a lengthy, complicated process with a broad spectrum of outcomes. According to Engineering.com, “Taking a product from concept to reality is an intricate, expensive and time-consuming process. It’s not easy and there is a high degree of risk involved.”
The notion that manufacturing and environmental health are at odds with one another has been commonly held since the Environmental movement really got going in the 1960s. Most of the time, this characterization has been true. There really is an environmental trade-off associated with industrial activity—at least in the traditional sense. Among the most damaging of these effects are:
These five applications are proving that metal AM has a place in high volume production—and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
From machining to MIM, metal parts buyers have a wide range of options for addressing their part-production challenges. The key in choosing from among them is to remember that each technology brings something different to the table, and every part has unique requirements.
Production runs of small, intricate metal components have traditionally been addressed by metal injection molding or investment casting. Some manufacturers, however, are finding that advances in 3D printing technology can make it a cheaper and faster alternative.
The question of which manufacturing method is best suited to metal part production can be complicated. It’s not a decision that can be reached by weighing only a single factor. To arrive at the best decision, it’s important for businesses to consider many factors and prioritize.
Are fast lead times essential? Do the components have tensile, strength, or hardness requirements? Is surface finish a major consideration? While it’s important for businesses to weigh various priorities, the final cost-per-part (within quality specifications) is often the deciding factor in which technique wins out.
Metal 3D Printing is becoming a great complement to Metal Injection Molding (MIM) and the decision to use one or the other largely comes down to the volumes required. The added bonus with metal 3D printing is that you can update a part without needing to invest in a brand new mold.
Manufacturers today who are searching for a cost-effective way to make small and complex metal parts for production by and large only have two options: metal injection molding (MIM) or investment casting. Casting has been around for thousands of years, and MIM was created ~40 years ago. Metal 3D printing is the new entrant to the scene, and for the first time in a long while adds another option to the engineer's toolkit. New low-cost, high volume metal 3D printing technologies (like 3DEO) are beginning to change conventional manufacturing wisdom.
While metal AM brings with it a host of positive advantages, it’s important to understand the realities of as-printed surface roughness. This understanding will help design/engineering teams understand the costs associated with bringing 3D printed parts to a suitable finish.
Overview of Intelligent Layering®
The first metal AM technology competitive with traditional manufacturing
Intelligent Layering® is the only metal 3D printing technology that beats traditional manufacturing in cost, quality, and turnaround. Buyers struggle to source small, complex metal parts due to high up-front costs, long lead times, and locked-in designs. 3DEO’s patented technology solves this by competing on price and quality with no up-front costs, short lead times, and unlimited design freedom.
No matter how you slice it, the spike in industry-wide 3D printing revenues over the past 5 years has been impressive. A close look at that growth, however, reveals something interesting: it’s been disproportionately driven a small handful of vertical markets. Of these select markets, none has been as influential as MedTech. Metal-based additive manufacturing (AM), in particular, has proven to be perfectly suited to meet a number of needs in medical and dental device production.
There’s a growing push among manufacturers towards integrating metal 3D printing into product development. Here’s why: