There are hundreds of methods to make metal parts. The list of technologies and techniques can be overwhelming. To make matters worse, each approach technology comes with a variety of strengths and weaknesses. The purpose of this article is to give a quick overview of the predominant metal part fabrication techniques and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, affords numerous benefits to design engineers. The primary advantages include the ability to consolidate components, reduce part weight, and design parts with complex internal geometries. Creating parts with additive manufacturing in mind is usually referred to as Design For Additive Manufacturing (DFAM). Consolidating components is especially advantageous because it reduces the number of parts that need to be designed and manufactured into the final assembly. Beyond just lowering the overall cost of production, parts consolidation also has a dramatic impact on the speed of production and also functional performance.
Prototyping for Metal Injection Moulding: 3DEO’s AM solution matches the density and chemistry of MIM parts
The nature of Metal Injection Moulding technology means that creating functional prototypes that match the density and chemistry of the final parts can be both expensive and time consuming, whilst machined or AM alternatives simply do not allow for a realistic assessment of how a component will function. In the following article 3DEO’s Matt Sand presents a new service that promises to deliver prototype and low to medium volume runs of components that match the performance of MIM parts.
The 2017 RAPID + TCT conference was held in Pittsburgh this week and featured new products and technologies from all the major players in the additive manufacturing industry. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and TCT Magazine did a terrific job of producing the conference this year and ensured representation spanned the entire industry including 3D printing equipment manufacturers, parts suppliers, and supporting products such as scanners, design software and many others.
3DEO brings low cost, high volume, metal additive manufacturing.
3D Printing Industry first featured the work of Matt Petros, CEO 3DEO, in 2014. 3DEO’s Intelligent Layering technology, “unlocks high volume metal AM by drastically reducing final part cost.” To do this 3DEO work with Metal Injection Molding (MIM) powders, this brings a remarkable cost saving and opens up a material palette familiar to many industrial enterprises.
3DEO, Inc. will be showcasing its breakthrough technology at the Technology LaunchPad RAPID + TCT conference in Pittsburgh May 8-11. The Technology LaunchPad is a showcase around the latest must-see technologies, applications and new product announcements. The technology is a novel high-volume/low-cost additive manufacturing (AM) process with demonstration parts highlighting the technology.
3DEO, meanwhile, makes low-cost 3D-printed metal parts using a simplified variation on binder jetting. Entire layers are fused together in the company’s hybrid process, which employs a CNC cutter to generate the geometry of bonded layers. The company is making some parts today as a toolingless complement to metal injection molding, and it plans to significantly expand its number of machines yet this year.
How will metal AM get on the highway to full-production volumes in automotive?
The automotive industry and metal additive manufacturing (AM - also known as 3D printing) have a deep and rich history together. Automotive was one of the earliest adopters of the technology with companies like General Motors buying into the promise of metal AM as early as 1992. The distinct advantages in rapid prototyping allowed AM to quickly change the game by cutting down lead times from weeks and months to merely days for delivery of scaled down models and freshly designed parts. With metal AM’s success in rapid prototyping, the logical next step was to continue developing the technology and ultimately bring it into the fold of high-volume automotive manufacturing -- over 25 years later and we do not seem to be any closer to high-volume metal AM production in automotive…. What went wrong? Does metal AM need more time and investment, or has the technology simply reached its highest potential?