Manufacturing Know-How for the Digital Age
What is Additive Manufacturing (AM)?
According to the most recent ISO/ASTM Standard [52900:2015(E)],
additive manufacturing “applies the additive shaping principle and thereby builds physical 3D geometries by successive addition of material. [AM] is the process of joining materials to make parts from 3D model data, usually layer (upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing and formative manufacturing methodologies.”
What is Design for Additive Manufacturing?
Additive Manufacturing or commonly referred to as 3D printing, is different from traditional manufacturing in that it liberates designers by allowing for more complex geometries and lightweight structures. While AM has eliminated many of the constraints of traditional machining and other processing technologies, AM does present a new set of challenges that must be considered during the design process. Here are some common misconceptions about AM or 3D printing fueled by mainstream media:
Each AM process has different variables. Manufacturing can get more complex with many types of printing methods, materials to choose from, and settings that dictate part outcome. Choosing the best process for your project is critical to success.
AM processes have shorter lead times and the ability to make changes more quickly in prototyping and low volume production. However, one must factor in design time to ensure files are “water tight,” printer start up time (heating), printing time, part removal and clean-up, sometimes curing, and applying finishing and coatings.
less design constraints
AM may have less design constraints vs a specific type of traditional manufacturing, yet there are constraints such as object orientation on the print bed and its impact on part strength. With each AM process, there are limitations associated with material choice as well.
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AM requires specific knowledge of part orientation, process and material selection as well as settings that impact performance of the part. In addition, post-processing skills are critical to deliver the job on time, on budget and within the desired specifications.
AM or 3D printing service bureaus are filling an enormous void of know-how and sound manufacturing practice. Not every organization should take AM processes in-house. Design for AM consulting is a savvy next step for those considering how AM can reshape your business.